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City Council speaker race: Meet the 8 candidates

The City Council speaker race includes, clockwise from

The City Council speaker race includes, clockwise from top left, Robert Cornegy Jr. (credit: Councilman Cornegy's office), Corey Johnson (Getty Images), Mark Levine (Councilman Levine's office), Donovan Richards Jr. (Councilman Richards' office), Jumaane Williams (Getty Images), Jimmy Van Bramer (Getty Images), Ritchie Torres (Uli Seit) and Ydanis Rodriguez (Bryan R. Smith).

While November's election led to few changes in city leadership, one top role will be filled by new shoes come 2018.

The City Council will elect its new speaker at its first meeting on Jan. 3. The position, currently held by Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, requires a majority of votes, or at least 26 out of 51. 

Only city council members get to vote in the election, but they are often influenced by party leaders and outside voices, including the city’s congressional representatives. Mayor Bill de Blasio has so far refrained from endorsing one of the eight candidates currently running. 

The speaker is considered the second most powerful political leader in the city and leads the council in setting priorities and passing laws. He or she can be an ally to the mayor or can strive to be more independent from Gracie Mansion. 

Here are the candidates, all men and all Democrats:

Robert Cornegy Jr.: A former professional basketball player abroad, Cornegy, 52, represents District 36 in Brooklyn, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. He is the chair of the Committee on Small Business.

Corey Johnson: The 35-year-old Manhattan councilman represents District 3, which includes Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village, Times Square and other parts of midtown. Johnson is the chair of the Committee on Health.

Mark Levine: Levine, 48, represents District 7 in Manhattan, which includes Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights. He is the chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation.

Donovan Richards Jr.: Richards, 32, represents the 31st District in Queens, which includes Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and Far Rockaway. The Queens native is currently chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises.

Ydanis Rodriguez: The 52-year-old Manhattan councilman represents District 10, which includes Inwood and Washington Heights. Rodriguez, who was born in the Dominican Republic, is the chair of the Committee on Transportation.

Ritchie Torres: Currently the youngest member of City Council, Torres, 29, represents District 15 in the Bronx, which includes Fordham, Belmont, Bedford Park, East Tremont and West Farms. The Bronx native serves as the chair of the Committee on Public Housing, which oversees the New York City Housing Authority. 

Jimmy Van Bramer: The 48-year-old Queens councilman represents District 26, which includes Sunnyside, Long Island City and Astoria. Van Bramer is the Majority Leader of the council, the second highest ranking position, and serves as the chair of the Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations.

Jumaane Williams: The 41-year-old Brooklyn councilman represents the 45th District, which includes Flatbush, Midtown and Canarsie. Williams is the chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings.

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