Last night, city council speaker contenders met in the Mt. Eden section of the Bronx for the second in a series of five public forums. Council members Jimmy Vacca, Annabel Palma, Mark Weprin, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Dan Garodnick and Inez Dickens appeared before an energized crowd, in a discussion moderated by BronxTalk radio host Gary Axelbank.
The series of public forums is unprecedented for selection of the city council speaker. The city council speaker is not elected by voters, but is selected by the 51 members of the city council without any direct role for the public. Several newly elected council members, including Ritchie Torres and Helen Rosenthal, conceived and organized the series in an effort to change, or at least expand, the way the speaker is selected. We spoke with Torres and Rosenthal about their purpose in doing so and whether the forums have, so far, met their goals.
We also spoke with CM Mark Weprin, a speaker contender and participant in last night’s forum, about public involvement in the process.
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito has been widely described as a frontrunner in the selection process. As a perceived frontrunner, she’s been subject to critical commentary and press. Last night Mark-Viverito declined to speak with us after the forum, leaving immediately through a side door.
Update – Jimmy Vacca:
Council Member Jimmy Vacca lit up the home borough crowd, as seen in this excerpt.
Prior Forum: Our coverage of the forum held in Jackson Heights is available here.