The Speaker is sworn in
Story by Erik Cuello
Photos by QPHOTONYC
At a ceremony marked with a sense of triumph, history and the inimitable rhythms of salsa, City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito was officially sworn in as the first Latina and the first Puerto Rican Council Speaker of New York City.
The swearing-in on Wed., Jan. 29th drew hundreds of residents, community leaders and elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, to the Bronx’s Hostos Community College.
Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda served as Master of Ceremonies, presiding over an inauguration in which the growth of the Latino political electorate and its leadership figured largely, as evidenced by the presence of Congressman José Serrano; Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez; former Borough President Fernando Ferrer; and Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr., among others.
Former New York State Secretary of State Lorraine Lorraine Cortés–Vázquez issued the official oath of office, standing together with newly elected Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James, who bore a unique copy of the New York City Charter.
The City Charter document was on loan from the New York City Department of Records. It has been written in 1898, when all five boroughs officially came together as New York City.
The selection had been made personally by Speaker Mark-Viverito for the occasion.
“It is that common bond that ties New Yorkers today together with New Yorkers of the past,” she said, underscoring the need for unity. “To make a lasting change in this city, we must stand together, and under my leadership, that is just what we’ll do.”
The Speaker made special mention of the borough in which she stood, and which she represents in the Council.
“It was so important to me to hold my inauguration here in the Bronx,” she said. “[Eugenio Maria de Hostos] was a man ahead of his time, who believed that together we could lift and unify people.”
As the ceremony came to a close, euphoric chants of “¡Sí, se puede!” echoed throughout the auditorium.
“Now is the time to embrace our progressive moment,” declared the Speaker, “and to put our values into action.”