Melissa Mark-Viverito hopes to make history in January by becoming the first Latina City Council speaker. And now groups are hoping to lobby other Latino lawmakers to her side. Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Last week, Melissa Mark-Viverito said potentially becoming the first Latina City Council speaker ever is historic.
"I am really also very proud because I have made history,” said Mark-Viverito.
"I think it’s just a proud moment to elect someone of color,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras of Queens.
"I think the election of Melissa Mark-Vivierot would allow for a Latino presence in government that has never really been there before,” said Luis Garden Acosta of El Puente.
Sources tell NY1 there is a growing movement to get other Hispanic lawmakers to support her candidacy or they could pay a price.
Groups are looking to sway Latino lawmakers to Mark-Viverito's side, including Rosie Mendez, Annabel Palma, Fernando Cabrera and Maria del Carmen Arroyo.
"My colleagues are amazing people that work really hard for their districts and I’m sure that in due time they will do what's best for them and what's best for their district,” said Ferreras.
For one, Palma was a former candidate for speaker. She dropped out and pledged to support Mark-Viverito's rival, Dan Garodnick, last week.
Palma told NY1 unions urged her to step aside to make way for Mark-Viverito. Palma says her political future was threatened if she didn't.
Other lawmakers who are not signed onto Mark-Viverito have not received similar threats.
"I would hope there isn't because at the end of the day the council members on January 8th have to come together and vote for a leader,” said Councilman Andy King of the Bronx.
But Hispanic leaders say other Latinos in the City Council are expected to come to Mark-Viveritos side.
"We ought not to depreciate this opportunity. Those who focus on narrow interest, however valid, fail to see the greater good of a more united New York,” said Acosta. "They are part of a problem now and not part of a solution."
For now, the coalition behind Melissa Mark-Viverito is staying strong. The Council will officially vote on its new speaker on January 8.