By DAVID GREENE
Editor’s Note: The following is an updated version of the story that appears in our latest print edition.
Surrounded by family and close friends, as well as a large contingent of local elected officials, former District 16 Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson was officially sworn in as President of the Bronx’s 14th Ward at a a ceremony at his alma mater, Lehman College, in Bedford Park on Sunday, March 27. She is the first woman and the first member of the black community to hold this position. Gibson was also previously assembled for the 77and assembly district.
Bronx Borough Deputy Speaker Janet Meija-Peguero took the stage at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts and speaking to Gibson, said: “You have taught me so much about being an honest and honest public servant. devoted.” Peguero later recalled, “I knew she was the real deal when I dropped into her district office to introduce myself as a city representative, doing business outreach and to my surprise, she helped me along the Jerome hallway (Avenue business).”
Peguero, who herself also made history by becoming the first Dominican immigrant to serve as borough vice-president, added, “She is a politician who gets the job done with honesty, transparency and attention to detail, a woman who doesn’t take no for an answer, but always finds a way to reinvent and challenge the status quo. She represents our borough for all the right reasons.
For her part, Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said that when she became district attorney, Gibson supported her in all things public safety. “It started with giving the Bronx district attorney’s office the funding we needed, so you could have the district attorney’s office you deserve.” Clark added, “As chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, she has continued to do so, standing shoulder to shoulder with me as we march through the streets of the Bronx against gun violence.”
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (AD 81) said he met Gibson about 13 years ago. “We were making changes to the Bronx Democratic Party, and then when Ruben Díaz Jr. made the incredibly smart decision to appoint Aurelia Greene as Deputy Borough President, I chaired the meeting that nominated Vanessa to the borough. assembly,” he said. “I’m so excited to have Vanessa as our Borough President, I can’t wait to work with her.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James also praised Gibson, saying, “I worked with Vanessa for 15 years. She brought her talent, her energy and her character to the New York State Assembly, to the City Council, and I was so proud when the Bronx chose her to be Borough President, and I thinks the Bronx has already seen what kind of leader Vanessa is.
Meanwhile, US Senator Kristen Gillibrand (NY-20) said, “One in four Bronx family members were out of work at the height of this pandemic. Vanessa and I have spoken many times about our common priorities for them and for all of your families. We are both committed to rebuilding the economy in a way that revitalizes industries and gets everyone back to family-supported jobs.
The ceremony was also attended by Bronx Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15), who as noted currently represents Norwood, Spuyten Duyvil and Riverdale, in addition to existing districts in Congressional District 15. As noted, the change follows the recent approval by the state legislature in early February of Democratic-backed redistricting plans, which Republicans legally challenged. A judge struck down the vote as unconstitutional, saying the districts were manipulated by Democrats and ordered new maps to be redrawn.
Lawmakers had until April 11 to submit the new maps. However, in the meantime, on Monday April 4, a judge granted a stay of proceedings, which maintains the last lines of the district [Democratic Party supported maps] in place and gives candidates time to solicit enough signatures to get on the June primary ballot before the upcoming deadline.
Referring to Gibson’s busy schedule, Torres said, “I envy Vanessa’s ability to be everywhere at once. She is the most visibly visible chosen one. He added: “When people ask me, ‘Why aren’t you as visible as Vanessa? I see her everywhere, I’m like… well, you know Vanessa has an identical twin,” a line that had the crowd laughing.
Later, Gibson was joined on stage by her family as she took her oath. She was sworn in by Justice Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division. After thanking her family, colleagues and those in attendance, the Borough President pledged to deliver a bold, creative and comprehensive program for what she called a beloved Borough. “To my colleagues in government, I am proud to partner with you every day in making this borough, our city and our state a better place for all New Yorkers to live and raise their families. We really are better together.
Gibson continued, “I don’t take this responsibility lightly and I stand proud on the shoulders of those who came before me, those who paved the way and paved the way for our leadership. They left their mark on history for me to follow and for that I am grateful to them. My ancestors, our ancestors fought and died to make me here today.
When Gibson launched her campaign for Borough President on December 17, 2020, she spoke about the need for access to healthy food, violence intervention, school safety, employment opportunities and health inequalities as key issues that needed more attention in the borough. . “There’s a lot of work to do, but I’m ready for the fight ahead of us,” she said at the time, but there were also fun moments along the campaign trail, like when she put her wheels on for Skate Night at the Williamsbridge Oval. Gibson went on to address many of these same issues in his inaugural speech.
Meanwhile, on the scourge of crime in the borough, Gibson said tackling the problem would be his administration’s top priority, while also announcing a new Office of Public Safety that will be based in the president’s office. of the borough of the Bronx. She is also committed to working with the NYPD, the Bronx District Attorney, the Probation Department, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice as well as organizations within the New York City Crisis Management System. York, local ward councils, clergy leaders and others to fight crime. and armed violence.
It is unacceptable that New Yorkers are afraid to go out, for fear of being shot for no reason in our city,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to see mothers and fathers continually burying their children…because of this epidemic of gun violence.”
As reported, on Monday night April 4, a 61-year-old bystander was shot in the back in the crossfire in the Fordham Heights section of the Bronx, amid an argument between a group of young men, as she walked down just the street. As also reported, on Friday, April 8, three teenagers were shot in the Mott Haven section of the borough, one of them fatally. Year-to-date shooting victims are up 37% in the Bronx compared to the same time last year, and year-to-date shooting incidents are up 38% in the Bronx. entire borough.
Moving on to the topic of economic recovery, Gibson pledged to help existing businesses and attract new businesses to the borough. Additionally, she pledged to finally implement a workable plan for the Kingsbridge Armory and “create a project that will have a huge impact” on the whole borough. Gibson said she will also work with public and private partnerships to bring new investments to the borough, help close the technology gap for Bronx students, and generate healthier food choices for Bronxites.
Concluding her remarks, the Borough President said, “We are a mosaic of different cultures and ethnicities, and a place of hope and opportunity for a better future.” She added: “Together we will be bold and we will be brave, and I am excited for the bright days ahead. I know the best is yet to come. God bless the boogie-down Bronx!
*Síle Moloney contributed to this story.