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Latino Lawmakers Rally for Mark-Viverito's Speaker Candidacy

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There are plenty of players weighing in on the race for City Council speaker and Thursday was no different, as Latino lawmakers rallied for Melissa Mark-Viverito at the headquarters of one of the city's most powerful unions. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Elected leaders and labor power players paraded out support on Thursday in an attempt to shore up Melissa Mark-Viverito's candidacy for City Council speaker, just the latest example of outside players' unprecedented involvement in the process.

"This, with Melissa, is our Obama moment," said Rep. Jose Serrano, whose district covers parts of the Bronx.

"We and our children and our grandchildren will remember this moment," said former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer.

Sources tell NY1 that Patrick Gaspard, the current ambassador to South Africa and close friend of the mayor, was making calls pushing Mark-Viverito's candidacy last week.

This is on top of aggressive lobbying by the mayor himself.

Major unions, like Local 32BJ and the Central Labor Council, were center stage on Thursday, touting Mark-Viverito as the first Latina who could serve in the post.

"I can't tell you how optimistic and how hopeful I am," said Vincent Alvarez of the Central Labor Council.

"32BJ was bringing everybody together and making sure that the Council progressive bloc stay together, and they have stood together behind Melissa, and we have a long history of working with Melissa, so we are very satisfied with that decision," said Hector Figueroa of SEIU Local 32BJ.

Although there were plenty of union leaders and elected officials on stage touting Mark-Viverito's candidacy, only seven people on the stage actually have a vote in the process as members of the city council.

"I am so honored to be elected to this body and to be able to cast this vote," said City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras of Queens.

Daniel Garodnick, Mark-Viverito's rival in the race, has tried to capitalize on this outside influence. Garodnick and his supporters have questioned whether Mark-Viverito can remain independent.

"It's very telling that as a Puerto Rican woman, a Hispanic woman, I'm not supporting her," said City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo of the Bronx. "I very deeply believe that Dan Garodnick is by far the best candidate for speaker of the City Council."

The City Council officially selects its speaker next week.

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