Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has represented East Harlem since 2006, returns to private life—for now, anyway—on December 31.

The most contested primary race in New York City this year is in the 15th Congressional district in the Bronx, where 12 people are vying for the Democratic nomination to replace the retiring Rep. José Serrano. If submitted, City Limits will publish one op-ed supporting each candidate.


A few weeks ago Data for Progress released a poll about the state of the race in NY-15. The poll made it seem as though the race has become a contest only between two candidates: Councilmembers Ritchie Torres and Ruben Diaz, Sr. Ever since the poll was released, many people who never paid attention to our district before are suddenly experts on our community. They want to bully us into voting for their preferred candidates

We reject their demands. The biggest takeaway from the poll for us was that there were more undecided voters than there were voters loyal to any one candidate.

Melissa Mark-Viverito can still win this race.

NY-15, which is entirely in the Bronx, is the most Democratic district in the entire country. It is also one of the poorest districts in the country, and a majority minority district. This makes us even more skeptical about the Data for Progress poll, which was put together by a group of white progressives, and is now being used to tell the people of color in the Bronx how to vote. 

This is a democracy, and the people of the district can make their own decisions based on who actually represents our values and interests. We do not need to be told which candidates are viable by people who do not live here, and do not understand the priorities of the people in the district.

The poll is very flawed. Data for Progress used a texting to internet program to conduct the poll. But 42 percent of the district doesn’t have Internet access, so to conduct an online poll is ignoring the voices that matter most in the community.

Up until this poll was released none of the national media or establishment figures in Washington, D.C., were paying attention to this race. Now that this one poll showed Diaz winning, they all have an opinion.

We will be clear: Ruben Diaz Sr. is a horrible candidate. He is pro-Trump, and does not represent the values of the Latino voters in our district. Him winning would be a disaster.

But, we also resent the Democratic establishment using Diaz to now try to weasel in their corporate backed candidate Torres. Torres has taken money from the real-estate lobby and Wall Street, and he is far from the most progressive candidate in the race. 

Torres is not the only candidate who can beat Diaz. This district is predominantly women, 61 percent, and majority Latino, 62 percent.

We have an incredibly experienced, incredibly progressive Latino woman, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is by and far the most qualified candidate to knock Diaz out of the race, and fight for us in Washington for years to come.

But, ivy tower writers at the New York Times and white progressve pollsters in Brooklyn have not coronated her, so apparently she should drop out?

Try again, people.

It is time for the people of this district to stand up and advocate for ourselves. We have to elect the person who we think will put the priorities of the people who actually live in this district front and center. 

That’s Melissa. She represented parts of the district as City Councilmember. She shattered a glass and concrete ceiling when she became the first Latina to hold citywide office. Melissa is a fighter, and a leader.

Torres and Diaz represent the Democratic establishment and Trump, respectively. Both of them would represent status-quo politics that have left our district in the shadows for far too long.

We can’t keep electing these same sorts of candidates who answer to the powers that be instead of the people, and expect anything to change. 

Melissa has run a people-powered campaign, and when she wins she will only have the people to answer to. Torres and Diaz cannot say the same.

Ultimately, we have a choice. Are we going to vote based on fear based tactics from white progressives who would never dream of physically stepping into our community, or are we going to vote based on the interests of our community?

If you want a fighter for corporate lobbyists, pick Ritchie Torres. If you want a fighter for Trump, pick Ruben Diaz Sr.

If you want a fighter for the working people of this district, vote for Melissa Mark-Viverito. 


Elizabeth Pacheco and Clarissa Alayeto are district 15 residents and Julio Medina is a criminal justice activist 

4 thoughts on “Op-Endorsement: Melissa Mark-Viverito Can Still Win This Race

  1. Delusional. MMV has never won a majority in any election she was the victor and she doesn’t even live in the district she wants to represent. Again, this op-ed is wishful thinking.

  2. You are guilty of the same. We have several other home grown very progressive canidates…including Julio Pabon and a couple of others that you dont mention…tired of carrer politicians. While you claimed she is the best choice you give no context WHY is she the best choice…well she isnt by a long shot !!

  3. As one who mistakenly supported Melissa Mark Viverito as the first Puerto Rican speaker I am disappointed at this unearned endorsement. I have no candidate in the 15th race. But as a life-long activist I also don’t suffer from historical amnesis. I am deeply disappointed by City Limits a publication I read often on how detached and limited (excuse the pun) is its coverage of the Latino community in this instance. The publishers have a right to be disheartened by the use of poll data to sway voters. Surprise did you all discover America??? But to deliberately recast Melissa Mark-Vivertito’s record to make points against the “the NY Times and white pollsters” is intellectual sophistry. It is not MMV’s relationship to whites that has doomed her campaign it is her treatment of her own people. Let me refresh your recollection.
    1) She doesn’t live in the district and chose to run after a third place finish in the Public Advocate race being trounced by a real anti-police abuse progressive Jumaane Williams.
    2) She voted to increase the NYPD by 1300 officers in a back room deal with Mayor de blasio that rightfully earned her the contempt of the Latino mothers who lost sons to the NYPD. http://bit.ly/2ICFCoe
    3) As the first Puerto Rican City Council speaker she cut the funding of the Center for Puerto Ricans studies, the principal investigative research arm of the PR community by 400,000 dollars. A PR speaker defunding PR organization. Que desgracia
    4) While pledging not to accept campaign contributions from real estate or PACs she accepted donations from real estate linked groups like Daly Bonzalez, a lobbying firm, the president of Matthew Wambua, President of real estate lender Merchants Capital
    5) She turned over control of the Puerto Rican Day Parade to a new corporate de Blasio hacks and spent her entire speakership denouncing the work of Harvard trained lawyer Ramon Jimenez who saved the parade from old board’s corruption and Angelo Falcon who was denounced by MMV when he pointed out in his studies that de Blasio had less Latinos in his administration than even Giuliani. At this point she was more committed to kissing de Blasio rear end.
    Most likely she will once again loose because you can’t fool all the people all of the time. But she need not worry because she is “bought and bossed” by Luis Miranda, leader of the Latino Victory Fund and an influential Latino lobbyist. I am sure he will find her a new position in the Biden administration? But I do hope that MMV will learn something from these unsuccessful efforts that you have to respect your own folks and be a humble public servant. As the late Angelo Falcon reminded us those who serve the Puerto Rican community scarred by colonialism and exclusion must always put the people’s interests before their own career interests. In this MMV failed terribly. If homophobe Ruben Diaz Sr. should prevail it will be in large part due to MMV splintering the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

    • Howard

      As the op-ed makes clear both at the beginning …

      The most contested primary race in New York City this year is in the 15th Congressional district in the Bronx, where 12 people are vying for the Democratic nomination to replace the retiring Rep. José Serrano. If submitted, City Limits will publish one op-ed supporting each candidate.

      … and in the middle …

      CityViews are readers’ opinions, not those of City Limits. Add your voice today!

      … this op-ed does not reflect our endorsement in the race. City Limits has never and will never endorse a candidate for election.

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