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Race For City Council Speaker To Move Behind Closed Doors

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Now that the public forums are over, the race for City Council speaker is heating up and moving behind closed doors. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Even the candidates themselves aren't exactly sure what will happen from here.

"You know, when the members decide who they will be comfortable with, that process, in terms of voting, will take place," said City Councilwoman Annabel Palma of the Bronx said at a public forum Monday.

"January 8 at 12 noon, we're going to elect a new speaker," said City Councilman Mark Weprin of Queens said Monday. "What happens between now and then, boy, it's anyone's guess."

The major candidates for City Council speaker had what is expected to be their final public forum Monday night, the last time they will all appear on stage together, making their case to the public.

After all, the speaker's selection isn't up to audience members. It's up to the 51 members of the City Council.

"I've been meeting two, three times, four times in some cases," said City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose district covers portions of Manhattan and the Bronx. "It really is about getting a thorough understanding of those that I will lead."

It is a process now out of public view.

Members of the newly minted progressive caucus claim that they have the largest block of votes, more than 20. To be elected speaker, a candidate needs 26.

The progressive caucus will meet Wednesday to determine how it will select its candidate, possibly by secret ballot.

Meanwhile, the City Council's black, Latino and Asian caucus met behind closed doors on Tuesday, interviewing each of the candidates for City Council speaker.

"I'm going to have a conversation with the black, Latino and Asian caucus about the role of the speaker," Weprin said.

"We weren't given any indication that the caucus will be voting as a block," Palma said. "It was more making sure that each candidate understood what were the priorities of the caucus and where speaker candidates stood in terms of those priorities."

Some in the room claim that out of the seven candidates, they don't have a favorite yet.

"We know them as colleagues, but we want to know exactly what they are going to do as speaker, whoever's going to be the speaker," said City Councilman Mathieu Eugene of Brooklyn.

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