By Albert Samaha
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Freddy Ferrer's lead cheerleader at his primary-night celebration at the Puck Building was City Council majority leader Joel Rivera. The 26-year-old Rivera served as emcee, introducing the party's stars, from City Comptroller Bill Thompson to Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. It was a nice boost for the young Rivera, whose dad, José, serves as Bronx Democratic Party county leader, since he's angling to become Council Speaker next year. "They tagged me on the field and asked me to do it," said Rivera of his emcee duties.
But Rivera hasn't always been such a true-blue Democrat. Four years ago, on the Sunday before the 2001 election, he stood and endorsed the man he said should be the next mayor of New York: Michael Bloomberg.
"Yes, I endorsed him," Rivera told the Voice. He had been a loyal supporter of Fernando Ferrer in the primary and the runoff but was angered by "divisive things" that Rivera said he heard from victor Mark Green during the contest. The council leader then enumerated all the good things Bloomberg has done since his election. "You look at the way crime has been going down, that is something the mayor can be extremely proud of," he said. "Unemployment is down, that's good, though it is still too high for African Americans and Latinos."
Had he thought of just staying out of the general election that November? "Well, seeing that Bloomberg was a businessman and was able to come from a somewhat humble background to become an established individual . . . To this day I think he has been a pretty good mayor," said Rivera. But don't get him wrong. Ferrer will be "outstanding" in City Hall, he said.