City Councilman Mark Weprin was unanimously elected this morning as chair of the Council’s Queens delegation, a sign that the wounds from the protracted Council Speaker race between Dan Garodnick and Melissa Mark-Viverito might be starting to heal.
The speaker battle had fractured the Queens delegation, with several Progressive Caucus members, including Julissa Ferreras, Jimmy Van Bramer, Daniel Dromm and Donovan Richards supporting Mark-Viverito, while the rest of the delegation stuck with Garodnick, the choice of Queens Democratic County Chairman Joe Crowley. Today’s delegation meeting was held in Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s district office in Forest Hills, and every Queens member except for Eric Ulrich, who had a conflicting engagement, attended. Perhaps as a way to extend the olive branch, Dromm was the first member to formally nominate Weprin and Ferreras the second.
Weprin indicated that the meeting was cordial, despite a report that some members questioned Van Bramer on his ties to the Queens Library, where he worked for 11 years, and whether it would compromise his ability to conduct a hearing on the system’s finances.
“For me this is an exciting role to play, I really was very flattered that people said such nice things,” Weprin said. “We are going to be passionate advocates for Queens.”
Dromm made no mention of the reported incident with Van Bramer, but was highly complimentary of Weprin, calling him “a person that can bring us all together,” in the wake of the tensions from the Speaker race.
“The delegation is coming together, everybody was very friendly with each other in the sense of uniting around Mark and they’re correct in that,” Dromm said. “He’s just a nice guy.”
What role the delegation chair plays in the new City Council is still up in the air. In the past, the delegation chair has played a big role in negotiating the city budget, with delegation chairs from all counties often named to the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team. The chairs also typically have a say in funding some of the county’s capital projects, and have also helped divvy up the pot of discretionary funding given to the Queens Council members.
Weprin said that he planned to sit down with Speaker Mark-Viverito to discuss what the role of the delegation chairs will be under her leadership. Weprin added that despite initially supporting her opponent Garodnick, he has been impressed with the way that the Speaker has tried to smooth over tensions within the Council. He specifically noted the group of Council members who traveled with her to Albany earlier this week, which included members from both sides of the Speaker’s race.
“The delegation chair, the role is still up to some discussion with the new Speaker, exactly the roles delegations as a whole are gonna play,” Weprin said. “We have issues in Queens that aren’t the same as in other areas, we have more seniors than in other counties, more diverse neighborhoods than other counties, so I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Tags: Budget Negotiating Team, capital projects, City Council Queens delegation, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, dan-garodnick, Daniel Dromm, discretionary funds, Jimmy Van Bramer, Julissa Ferreras, karen-koslowitz, mark weprin, Queens delegation chair