Saturday, February 13, 2016

Rodriguez hopes to be rising star in council

By Shant Shahrigian

After the slog of campaigning for office, a group of city officials including Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio earlier this month made for San Juan, Puerto Rico for the annual Somos El Futuro Conference. The main purpose was networking, but the sunny locale provided plenty of opportunities for unwinding as well.

That held little appeal for re-elected Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez. He said he left his heart back in his home area, Council District 10, with his young daughters calling him every day to ask when he would be back home.

“For me, it’s not an easy thing to do,” Mr. Rodriguez said of the trip to San Juan. “The most important thing in my life is family.”

Still, the trip could pay dividends for Mr. Rodriguez. During his re-election campaign, the councilman said outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration had neglected his district — which covers the Manhattan neighborhoods of Inwood and Washington Heights along with part of Marble Hill — during Mr. Rodriguez’s first term.

But if Mr. Rodriguez’s bet for city council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, gets the job, his clout on the body is likely to increase.

“I’m committed to doing whatever is in my ability to elect Melissa,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

Discussions about the next city council speaker dominated the San Juan conference, with members of the council’s progressive caucus reportedly coming out in favor of Ms. Mark-Viverito, who co-founded the group.

“The combination of [Mr. Rodriguez’s] being part of that caucus and just being a more experienced council member than when he came on should increase his influence,” said John Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Between now and the start of his next term, Mr. Rodriguez said he is keeping track of development projects in his district and working on a 20--to-30-year plan for northern Manhattan and Marble Hill.

After backing plans to expand Marble Hill’s River Plaza, Mr. Rodriguez said he is trying to ensure the developer makes good on promises to give jobs to nearby residents.

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