Melissa Mark-Viverito (born April 1, 1969) is an American politician who served as the Speaker of the New York City Council from 2014 to 2017 as well as councilmember for the 8th district from 2006 to 2017. She is a Democrat. The district includes Concourse, Concourse Village, East Harlem, Highbridge, Longwood, Mott Haven, Port Morris, and Randall's Island.
|Speaker of the New York City Council|
January 8, 2014 – December 31, 2017
|Preceded by||Christine Quinn|
|Succeeded by||Corey Johnson|
|Member of the New York City Council from the 8th district|
January 1, 2006 – December 31, 2017
|Preceded by||Phil Reed|
|Succeeded by||Diana Ayala|
|Born||April 1, 1969|
San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Alma mater||Columbia University (B.A.)|
Baruch College (M.P.A.)
Mark-Viverito was born in San Juan and grew up in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She came to New York at age 18 to attend college, earning a BA degree from Columbia University in 1991 and then a Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch College in 1995. Her hyphenated last name comes from her late father, Anthony Mark, and the maiden name of her mother, Elizabeth Viverito. Her father was a doctor and a founder of San Pablo Hospital in Bayamón, where her mother still lives.
Before running for City Council, Mark-Viverito served as a member of Community Board 11, coordinator of the movement Todo Nueva York con Vieques, president of Mujeres del Barrio, and Strategic Organizer for Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an influential health care workers union.
Mark-Viverito campaigned in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and identified herself as part of the "99%" of income earners despite having a net worth in the millions. She and her family inherited an estimated $6.7 million from her father, a doctor. Prior to her inheritance, she applied for a taxpayer-subsidized loan in 1998 when her property at the time was worth $310,000. As of 2014, the multi-story condominium property was worth around $1,300,000. Mark-Viverito rents out her properties, but did not report her rental income. Her spokesman claimed it to be an honest oversight on her part.
After running unsuccessfully against Phil Reed for City Council in District 8 in 2003, Mark-Viverito was elected to the position when Reed reached his term limit in 2005. During her first four years in office, Mark-Viverito sponsored and passed several pieces of legislation regarding tenant harassment, building safety, greening buildings, and park conservancies. In January 2009, she criticized the voting record of newly appointed New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on immigration.
In November 2013, she won re-election to her third term in the Council, and her close ally Bill de Blasio was elected mayor. Soon the New York Daily News cited Mark-Viverito as "the front-runner" for "New York City's second-most powerful political post — Speaker of the City Council." A grassroots effort to boost her Speaker candidacy included social media, fliers, phone banking, and volunteer recruitment.
Mark-Viverito was elected City Council Speaker on January 8, 2014, at age 44, becoming the first member of the Council's Black, Latino and Asian Caucus to hold this position. Her first "State of the City" speech emphasized reform of the criminal justice system.
In January 2016, Mark-Viverito introduced a collection of eight bills known as the "Criminal Justice Reform Act" to reduce the penalty for acts such as violating park rules, littering and public urination from misdemeanors to the civil process. Mark-Viverito sponsored the bills so that young people in communities of color could "fulfill their potential" by incentivizing officers to give verbal warnings and fines but not remove the option of making arrests.
In 2017, Mark-Viverito declined to boycott the Puerto Rican Day Parade, after organizers decided to honor Oscar López Rivera, a prominently incarcerated member of Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña (FALN).
In 2016, Melissa Mark-Viverito became the subject of controversy and a lawsuit when she was alleged to have pressured the New York City Housing Authority to fire a black manager of a NYCHA housing project and replace her with a "Spanish Manager".
|2005 Primary||Melissa Mark-Viverito||Dem||3,626||25.40%||Felipe Luciano||Dem||3,610||25.30%||Joyce Johnson||Dem||2,744||19.23%||Others (3)||Dem||4,255||30.06%|
|2005 General||Melissa Mark-Viverito||Dem||16,743||99.98%|
|2009 Primary||Melissa Mark-Viverito||Dem||4,993||46.73%||Robert J. Rodriguez||Dem||2,827||26.46%||Gwen Goodwin||Dem||1,255||11.75%||Others (2)||Dem||1,554||15.17%|
|2009 General||Melissa Mark-Viverito||Dem||17,091||99.99%|
|2013 Primary||Melissa Mark-Viverito||Dem||3,768||35.67%||Ralina Cardona||Dem||1,899||17.98%||Edward N. Santos||Dem||1,710||16.70%||Others (3)||Dem||3,186||30.80%|
|2013 General||Melissa Mark-Viverito||Dem||14,296||93.78%||Ralina Cardona||Rep||793||5.20%||Christopher Giattino||Dem||131||.86%|
| New York City Council, 8th District
| Speaker of the New York City Council