This Is Who We Are

This Is Who We Are

City Council Speaker Champions an Inclusive, Engaged City

At her final State of the City address Speaker of the City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito said, “This is the record of this City Council. A Council that is unafraid to lead through justice and through fairness…There is so much to be proud of, but still so much more to do. In our final 10 months together, we renew our pledge to fight for all New Yorkers.”

The first Puerto Rican and first Latina to hold a citywide elected role, Speaker Mark-Viverito has served on the City Council since 2005, representing the 8th District, which includes El Barrio/East Harlem and Mott Haven. The Speaker will be leaving the City Council this November, having accomplished a long list of legislative reforms. 

“The work we’ve done on immigration issues and criminal justice, like closing Rikers Island, has set New York City apart from the rest of the country in terms of the kind of city that we want to be and that other cities would like to be,” says the Speaker. “This is about how we treat the people who live here, the kind of values we want to have.” 

IDNYC cards—government-issued identification cards available to any resident of New York City regardless of immigration status—have gone a long way toward establishing New York as a national leader in immigration reform. “They provide so many critical benefits without revealing information about the holders. We’ve just approved the millionth card!” 

Another accomplishment of which she is particularly proud is the adoption of participatory budgeting—in which people vote on how money should be spent—by districts across the City, citing the funding of public libraries, new recreation areas and technology upgrades as a result of this “change-making tool.” 

“The most important issues facing NYCHA have to do with quality of life. They are complex, and often linked to issues at the community level—like violence and access to services,” the Speaker explains. “Weighing in on how public money is spent in your community has huge impact.”

Her advice for residents who want to change the status quo: “Join your resident association to make sure you have a say in what happens in your development. Become involved in local organizations and community boards so you know what’s happening in the neighborhood and are knowledgeable about the issues. Get to know your elected officials, engage with them, become a thorn in their sides—that’s how to make things happen!”

The City Council will provide funding for several NYCHA initiatives over the next year: expanding the FlexOps extended service hours program; building additional urban farms; supporting growth of the Business Pathways Programs; purchasing additional digital vans; and creating a resident leadership academy with CUNY. The Leadership Academy, says Speaker Mark-Viverito, will offer the kind of training that develops and trains emerging resident leaders to become more effective advocates for their communities. Participating residents can also earn up to 16 college credits through CUNY towards a degree. “And,” she adds, “they just might be ready to run for local office.”

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

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