Melissa Mark-Viverito is the former Speaker of the New York City Council and co-founder of the 21 in ’21 Initiative. She argues that electing women into government is critical for our society and democracy because their perspectives and experiences need to be represented in budgets, public policy, and legislation.
Gender equity in government
It’s a disservice to our communities and our democracy when the voices of women are missing in government. Women have a right for government to reflect their needs. The actual, lived experiences and perspectives of women in leadership positions enrich and inform our budgets, public policy, and legislation in ways that would not be possible in their absence. A prime example is reproductive rights. When women are at the table, onerous legislation against reproductive rights is less likely.
Campaign Finance Program
An effective campaign finance program is critical for leveling the playing field for political candidates. It amplifies the voices of small donors and marginalized communities, encourages citizens from all walks of life to run for office, and reduces the possibility of corruption. The New York City Campaign Finance Board boasts a campaign finance program that matches each dollar that is donated with an $8 contribution from public funds.
Women Can Win
Women have a right to run and to be elected. The record number of women elected into Congress in the 2018 midterm election proves that women can win. Still, women are reluctant to jump into the fray, and have to be asked 5 to 6 times to run for office. Women candidates benefit from being mentored, gaining the skills and understanding about what it takes to run for office, and an effective campaign finance program.
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Melissa Mark-Viverito is a leading progressive voice in New York. She made history in 2005 when she was elected as the first Latina to represent Spanish Harlem/El Barrio in the New York City Council. In January 2014, she was unanimously elected to serve as New York City Council Speaker. Melissa championed women, immigrants, LGBTQ communities, and black and brown New Yorkers that were historically ignored by city government. She called for closing Rikers Island, demanded the city decriminalize low-level offenses, and fought for lawyers for all undocumented immigrants. Learn more about her public service record here.
Melissa is currently serving as the Interim President of Latino Victory and is Co-Founder of the 21 in ’21 Initiative.
Follow Melissa Mark-Viverito on Twitter @MMViverito.