A handful of backroom power players in city and state politics turned out for Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito swearing-in ceremony this afternoon–including many of the people who soon will be lobbying the City Council on behalf of clients with interest before the city.
Ms. Mark-Viverito, the front-runner to become the next speaker of the City Council, was sworn in for her third term in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx today, where she was greeted by throngs of supporters at a cramped public housing community room. Beyond the elected officials and dozens of boosters from her East Harlem base, she was joined by a number of notable lobbyists and political consultants.
“It’s a long drive from Boro Park,” quipped Ezra Friedlander, the founder of the Friedlander Group, whose organization has represented Congressman Jerry Nadler and various influential Orthodox Jewish groups. He told Politicker Ms. Mark-Viverito had always been supportive of his initiatives to combat autism.
Several other lobbyists and consultants from the Orthodox Jewish community, to which Ms. Mark-Viverito has few existing ties, also journeyed to the south Bronx for her swearing in. Yoel Lefkowitz, a consultant on Republican John Catsimatidis’s mayoral bid, was there, as was Joel Schnur, a longtime lobbyist for a wide range of corporations and nonprofits.
Asked why he had come so far north for Ms. Mark-Viverito’s swearing in, Mr. Leftkowitz smiled and offered that he was simply “a political junkie.” Mr. Schnur was more blunt: “I’m a lobbyist,” he said.
Also spotted in the crowd was Danna DeBlasio who heads city lobbying efforts for Patricia Lynch Associates.
The appearance of these various political players, insiders said, was no surprise. If a deal brokered by Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio holds, Ms. Mark-Viverito will assume the second most powerful post in the city come January 8.
“Success has many fathers. Melissa is now the heiress presumptive and with that comes many new friends and uncles who want to be close to the action,” said one City Council source. “Not unlike the new friends Bill de Blasio found himself with after the primary.”
Beyond the behind-the-scenes crowd, Ms. Mark-Viverito’s closest allies in elected office showed up as well. Council members Ydanis Rodriguez and Jimmy Van Bramer, two of the 30 members publicly supporting her bid against rival Dan Garodnick, heaped praise on her record. And Bronx State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Luis Sepuleveda, another earlier de Blasio backer who has his own complicated history with Ms. Mark-Viverito, boosted her too.
“We have a great leader in Melissa Mark-Viverito,” Mr. Van Bramer, a Queens lawmaker, said. “She’s a great councilwoman. She is going to make an even better speaker of the New York City Council.”