Mayoral Ally Melissa Mark-Viverito Elected City Council Speaker

Melissa Mark-Viverito was chosen in a vote by the 51-member council

Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014  |  Updated 4:50 PM EDT
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De Blasio's Pick for City Council Speaker Wins

AP Photo

Melissa Mark-Viverito, left, and Dan Garodnick

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A liberal councilwoman from East Harlem who was backed by Mayor de Blasio has been elected as City Council speaker. 

Melissa Mark-Viverito was challenged until the last minute by Councilman Dan Garodnick, who conceded just before the vote by lawmakers Wednesday "in the spirit of strengthening the council," he said in a statement.

"I look forward to working with Speaker Mark-Viverito and to helping her to ensure that we can deliver a sound and responsible government for all New Yorkers," Garodnick said.

Mark-Viverito welcomed the spirit of unity, and pledged a City Council with "independence, integrity, transparency and accountability."

Notably, she said the council would "unite to hold the administration and mayor accountable."

De Blasio, her ally, essentially helped hand-pick her as speaker, giving him a close contact in the position in city government that has the most power to speed up or obstruct his legislative agenda.

The mayor faced criticism that he overstepped his powers to push an ally as speaker, the second-most powerful post in government behind the mayor, especially since he frequently chided Bloomberg for his sometimes-cozy relationship with former speaker Christine Quinn. 

De Blasio has been dismissive when asked if it would be difficult to govern if the head of the legislative branch had the same liberal ideology as the mayor.

"Wow," he said sarcastically last month. "What a challenge that would be."

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