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City Council's Progressive Caucus Discusses Strategy

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An independent caucus within the City Council is trying to have a major influence over who the next speaker is, and this so-called progressive caucus met again Wednesday to discuss strategy. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

One by one, members of the City Council's progressive caucus filed out of the municipal building Wednesday evening.

"No comment. I can't comment," said City Councilman Donovan Richards of Queens. "I would love to. Maybe on, after January 1."

January is when the Council will elect a new speaker, and the Council's Progressive Caucus is hoping to play a large role in that process.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn: We're deciding on a lot of things as we speak.
Q: Like what?
Richards: Like how we move forward in the City Council.

The caucus met behind closed doors for more than two hours to discuss strategy and exactly how it could influence the speaker's race.

Those specifics were not shared with NY1. The caucus' endgame, however, was.

"To elect a progressive speaker, to make sure that progressives are in leadership positions and that our rules reforms that we unveiled with the support of 31 members are adopted," said City Councilman James Van Bramer of Queens.

Members of the progressive caucus said that they have more than 20 votes in their bloc. Seventeen Council members met behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Two of the seven candidates were in the room: Williams and the so-called front-runner, Melissa Mark-Viverito. Both are members of the progressive body.

Seven newly elected members were in the room. One, Ritchie Torres, told NY1 that they want to have more of a voice in the new Council.

"It's important that we create a structure that empowers new members like myself to be leaders in the City Council and to advance a progressive agenda that improves labor standards for working people or that creates more affordable housing through inclusionary zoning," Torres said.

It's unclear how the caucus will select its candidate moving forward, whether it will use a secret ballot, a vote or come to a consensus some other way.

"Obviously, we talked strategy. Obviously, I'm not going to reveal those strategies and any votes," Van Bramer said. "But certainly, there were no votes taken and no decision made."

At least not yet.

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