Melinda Katz was sworn into office last night, January 9th, as the new Borough President of Queens. She took the oath at Queens College, known for being one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the nation and a reflection of the diverse Borough, by new Mayor Bill deBlasio. During his campaign Mayor deBlasio pledge a city that focused on the outer boroughs as well as Manhattan. His presence was a beginning confirmation of that commitment.
There was a large show of support for the incoming Borough President from a whose who of politicos, clergy and community leaders. The long list of elected officials was impressive and included newly elected City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose welcome greeting of Buenos Diaz brought a welcomed response. State Senator Chuck Schumer, Public Advocate Letitia James and Congressman Joe Crowley who stood by Melinda's side as she took the oath of office were also in attendance. There was a strong showing by the NY City Council as well as representatives from the Queens delegation of the NY State legislature present for the inauguration.
The outgoing Borough President and past President, Helen Marshall and Claire Shulman respectively, were also present. Marshall was seated next to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and took plenty of opportunities to welcome and congratulate the incoming President.
During her remarks, Katz pledged to address education, jobs, economic development and small business. On education she spoke to having an equal education “over the entire borough”. She vowed to address “how to make our school system fair” and to have the various “traditions respected” which come from such a diverse borough. On policing, the new Borough President called for “policing that respects civil rights.” Katz said she will create a “storm relief task force,” to address the various neighborhoods across the borough, including Jamaica, that have severe weather concerns. She spoke to the issue of health care and the numerous hospital closings that have hit the borough. She ended her remarks by speaking to the hope of having “families live here and stay here”. That included creating jobs in the borough and economic development in the Rockaways. She spoke to the legacy of her parents that felt one should not have to take a bridge or tunnel to enjoy what New York has to offer.
After the formal ceremony, the Borough President stood with the new Deputy Borough President, former Councilman Leroy Comrie, to mingle, shake hands, talk and take photos with attendees.