The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, observed a new voting process whereby members of a New York community chose which projects to fund in their area.
Cruz Soto was the special guest of Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), of East Harlem’s District 8, at a gathering where the winning projects of the Participatory Budget Process (PBP) were announced. The PBP is a new model for distributing local funds where residents help make the decisions.
The meeting took place at the Johnson Community Center on Lexington near 112th Street, where votes were counted and the results released.
Cruz Soto said she was impressed with the process.
“I wanted to participate in the experience in order to replicate the PBP in four San Juan communities,” Cruz Soto told El Diario.
“From what I’ve seen here, the important thing isn’t only citizens voting but also the way they develop a connection with their governments, which allows them to not only be heard but also to take part in the decision-making process,” said Cruz Soto, who spoke with District 8 residents in El Barrio about her experience with PBP.
Cruz Soto added that this method is “worthy of emulating” to utilize “in San Juan and other cities.”
“Carmen Yulín is bringing a new type of democracy to San Juan,” Mark-Viverito emphasized, and added that she hopes to continue collaborating with Cruz Soto’s administration to “strengthen the bond between our two cities.”
This week, residents from seven other New York districts also voted to decide which projects their City Council members will fund. Each project will receive $1 million at minimum.