Lower Manhattan— Flanked by a sea of supporters, politicians and even the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the former Speaker of New York City Council said Tuesday she would run for Public Advocate.
Since Melissa Mark-Viverito left the city council in 2017 due to term limits, speculation has swirled about her next move. PIX11 asked her why her next step was a run for Public Advocate, which is a position some in the city council see as so ineffective that they’re proposing eliminating it.
“I think what people want in this election cycle, is they want government to be more responsible to them more accountability more transparency,” Mark-Viverito said. “So any calls to eliminate this position is ill-warranted, particularly at this time.”
Mark-Viverito joins a crowded field looking to replace Tish James— the newly elected New York attorney general. The special election is in about three month, and has already garnered interest from many, including Councilman Jumaanee Williams. He has already been endorsed by the Working Families Party.
As for the issues Mark-Viverito intends to run on, she is asking voters to consider not just her track record, which includes successfully advocating to close Rikers Island, but also to consider gender equality.
“As Tish James leaves the Public Advocate office we will have three white men occupying all city-wide positions of leadership,” she said. “We cannot let this stand. It is about time for a progressive, aggressive Latina woman to lead.”
The Public Advocate has traditionally be a spring-board position to bigger government jobs. PIX11 asked Mark-Viverito if she planned to stay in the position for a while or run for mayor in 2021. She said she was focused on the Public Advocate race, but the language she used to answer the question did not rule anything out.