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Race For Next City Council Speaker Has Somos El Futuro Conference Buzzing

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The race for mayor may be over, but the campaign for the next City Council speaker is just starting to heat up, and in Puerto Rico, at a conference of elected officials from New York, everyone is buzzing about who will lead the city legislature. NY1's Grace Rauh

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - The talk around the bar and by the pool in San Juan is that two leading candidates are emerging in the race for City Council Speaker.

Melissa Mark-Viverito and Dan Garodnick, both Manhattan Democrats, are said to be the strongest candidates for the post.

Mark-Viverito has close ties to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and the health care workers' union, 1199, that helped de Blasio win.

"There's a lot of conversations happening," Mark-Viverito said. "Clearly, I am talking with my colleagues."

Garodnick is considered more of a moderate and is well-liked by his colleagues. When asked if he is at a disadvantage because he is not Latino like Mark-Viverito, he said, "Por que no. No es posible."

Mark Weprin from Queens is also in the running, along with a few others.

There's a lot of bochinche, right, a lot of gossiping. A lot of gossip is going on here," Weprin said. "I'm not sure anything is happening, truthfully. Everyone's talking."

The question looming over the contest is how involved de Blasio wants to be in shaping the outcome of the race. So far, he said that he is not focused on it. Sources say he has not made any obvious moves behind the scenes either.

Some council members are using the race to press for changes within the body.

"We want to see a more fair and balanced approach to government, a more transparent approach to government," said City Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens.

Other recently elected members want reforms as well.

"There's a new body of City Council members that are coming in that have young progressive energy, and they want to share that energy in the council," said City Councilmenber-elect Laurie Cumbo.

No matter who wins, the dynamic on the City Council will be fundamentally different. For the first time in 20 years, the Democratic-led council will have a Democrat as mayor at City Hall.

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