Ex-Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito running for congress in South Bronx: sources

Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is running for congress, the Daily News learned.

Mark-Viverito is expected to announce her candidacy for New York’s 15th Congressional district in the coming days, according to four sources familiar with her plans.


She will join an already crowded Democratic primary field with at least six other candidates vying for the South Bronx seat that will be vacated by Rep. José Serrano when he retires in 2020 over his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

“She has no chance of winning. She hates fundraising and all of the other basic things that you need to do as a candidate for office,” said one former Mark-Viverito campaign staffer.

Councilmen Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) and Rubén Díaz Sr. (D-Bronx), Assemblyman Michael Blake (D-Bronx), Phipps Neighborhoods Financial Empowerment Center financial counselor Jonathan Ortiz and Bronx River Community Center program director Tomas Ramos have already announced runs for the seat. So has former Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson – who was convicted of bribery in 2014.

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Earlier this year, Mark-Viverito lost a 17-person special election for public advocate with just 11% of the vote.

“Melissa had one of the most embarrassing defeats in the history of NYC politics. She has no roots in the Bronx. No appeal to black voters,” a source familiar with Mark-Viverito’s plans said. “No ability to raise funds. No institutional support. No path to victory.”

Sources said her entry in the race could result in a win by Díaz Sr., a conservative pol who has made homophobic remarks and suggested that sometimes “sexual harassment is a compliment.”

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Mark-Viverito, 50, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

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The 15th Congressional District is one of the poorest in the country, Census data show.

Mark-Viverito represented East Harlem and parts of the Bronx in the Council from 2006 to 2017, including a four-year term as speaker of the body, and was the first first Puerto Rican and Latina to hold a citywide elected position.

She successfully pushed Mayor de Blasio into hiring more police officers and agreeing to close Rikers Island. Mark-Viverito also changed how discretionary funding is allocated and gave Council members a raise, as well as giving them more power to introduce legislation. One bill sponsored by her and passed by the Council restricted when law enforcement would cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

She’s currently the interim president of the Latino Victory Project, a political action committee that aims to increase Latinx representation in government. Last month, ex-Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló apologized for calling Mark-Viverito a “whore” in leaked text messages.

The primary is set for June 23, 2020.


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