Following the November election of Bill de Blasio as mayor, political progressives in New York City got another piece of good news on Thursday: Melissa Mark-Viverito locked up the race for City Council speaker after Brooklyn county Democratic chairman Frank Seddio decided to back her candidacy.
In many ways, Mark-Viverito, 44, and de Blasio are political and ideological allies. The New York City Council member from Harlem was one of the first to back de Blasio’s mayoral campaign, and both are allied with the city’s health care workers union.
For her part, Mark-Viverito is known as a fierce advocate against inequality and for her city’s Latino population.
She is also co-chair of the New York City Council’s 11-member Progressive Caucus. The caucus has advocated for a broad progressive agenda, including guaranteeing the right of all workers to take paid sick leave, prohibiting hiring discrimination based on credit history and expanding voting rights to non-citizen permanent immigrants.
The election of Bill de Blasio as mayor is seen by many in and out of New York as a corrective two decades of Republican leadership, as well as a potential harbinger of a national progressive political resurgence.
New York’s swing towards progressive liberalism runs parallel to a number of other recent victories, including the November upset by socialist Kshama Sawant in Seattle’s City Council and a series of referendums, ordinances and electoral wins around the country.
In March, nine aldermen in the Chicago City Council formed the Progressive Reform Coalition. Since then, the caucus has backed a number of ordinances and resolutions that focus on issues such as government accountability, economic growth and public safety.
In response, a second coalition of alderman known as the Paul Douglas Alliance was also created, which is seen by many as progressive but also more politically aligned with Mayor Rahm Emanuel than the Progressive Reform Coalition.