Melissa Mark-Viverito

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.

Described by The New York Times as "fiercely liberal", she was elected Speaker on January 8, 2014, succeeding Christine Quinn.[1][2]

Melissa Mark-Viverito
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito (6217502867) (cropped)
Speaker of the New York City Council
In office
January 8, 2014 – December 31, 2017
Preceded byChristine Quinn
Succeeded byCorey Johnson
Member of the New York City Council from the 8th district
In office
January 1, 2006 – December 31, 2017
Preceded byPhil Reed
Succeeded byDiana Ayala
Personal details
BornApril 1, 1969 (age 49)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materColumbia University (B.A.)
Baruch College (M.P.A.)

Early life and career

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.[3]

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,[4] and Strategic Organizer for Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an influential health care workers union.[5]

In August 2014, Mark-Viverito publicly disclosed that she was infected with the most common STD, the human papillomavirus.[6] She is not married.

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.[7] 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.[8]

New York City Council

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.[9] In January 2009, she criticized the voting record of newly appointed New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on immigration.[10]

During Mark-Viverito's second term in the Council, she served as chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee[11] and as founding co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.[12]

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."[13] A grassroots effort to boost her Speaker candidacy included social media, fliers, phone banking, and volunteer recruitment.[14]

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.[15] Her first "State of the City" speech emphasized reform of the criminal justice system.[16]

In January 2016, Mark-Viverito introduced a collection of eight bills known as the "Criminal Justice Reform Act"[17] 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"[18] by incentivizing officers to give verbal warnings and fines but not remove the option of making arrests.[19]

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).[20][21]

Allegations of racism

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".[22]

Election history

New York City Council: District 8
Election Candidate Party Votes Pct Candidate Party Votes Pct Candidate Party Votes Pct Candidate Party Votes Pct
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%


  1. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M.; Taylor, Kate (January 9, 2014). "Mayoral Ally Elected Speaker, Furthering City's Liberal Shift". New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  2. ^ Taylor, Kate (December 20, 2013). "A City Councilwoman Not Afraid to Take On Inequality". New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  3. ^ Lombardi, Frank (March 3, 2011). "Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem is 1 of just 2 female politicians in upper Manhattan". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  4. ^ "NYC Voter Guide: Melissa Mark-Viverito". NYC Campaign Finance Board. 2005. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  5. ^ "NYC Voter Guide: Melissa Mark-Viverito". NYC Campaign Finance Board. 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  6. ^ Gonen, Yoav (August 18, 2014). "Melissa Mark-Viverito reveals she has 'high-risk' HPV". New York Post. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  7. ^ "Mark-Viverito, candidate for Council speaker, has $1.5M in properties". Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  8. ^ Andrea Peyser (9 January 2014). "Melissa Mark-Viverito: A millionaire hypocrite who will ruin NYC". Retrieved 30 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Melissa Mark-Viverito: Legislation". Archived from the original on August 19, 2014. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  10. ^ Powell, Michael (February 2, 2009). "Gillibrand Hints at a Change of Mind on Immigration". New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  11. ^ "The Council — Stated Meeting of Thursday, January 21, 2010" (PDF). Supplement to The City Record. January 21, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  12. ^ Chen, David W. (March 24, 2010). "Dozen Council Members Form a Bloc for Liberals". New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  13. ^ Gonzalez, Juan (November 8, 2013). "Melissa Mark-Viverito leads tough fight for NYC Council speaker". New York Daily News. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  14. ^ Colvin, Jill (November 8, 2013). "Meet Melissa Mark-Viverito's Biggest Fan". New York Observer. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  15. ^ Falcón, Angelo (January 22, 2014). "Latinos and the NYC Council: The Impact of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito" (PDF). National Institute for Latino Policy. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  16. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (February 12, 2015). "Council Speaker Seeks Criminal Justice Reforms in State of the City Address". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  17. ^ "The New York City Council - Meeting of Committee on Public Safety on 1/25/2016 at 10:00 AM". 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  18. ^ New York City Is Set to Adopt New Approach on Policing Minor Offenses, New York Times, January 20, 2016
  19. ^ "Poll: Residents feel safe in their neighborhoods, but not on the subway". 2016-02-26. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  20. ^ Barron, Seth. "Melissa Mark-Viverito's parade hypocrisy | New York Post". Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  21. ^ "Mark-Viverito defends Puerto Rican Day Parade, blaming 'ultra-right-wing' groups for controversy". Retrieved 2017-05-26.
  22. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito urged NYCHA to replace black woman at helm of Bronx housing project with a 'Spanish manager'". Retrieved 2018-04-15.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Philip Reed
New York City Council, 8th District
Succeeded by
Diana Ayala
Preceded by
Christine Quinn
Speaker of the New York City Council
Succeeded by
Corey Johnson

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