Former Upper West Side city council member Gale Brewer was sworn in as Manhattan Borough President on Sunday
A crowd of supporters over 3,000 strong gathered at the Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street on Sunday, January 12 to cheer on Gale Brewer as she took the oath of office to become the Manhattan Borough President. Brewer has previously served three terms on the city council representing the Upper West Side's 6th district, and she enjoyed strong local support in that role. Many of her former constituents filled the ballroom, along with citywide and state officials.
Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke of Brewer's history of public service and noted that she purposefully passed up more lucrative career options and went into the public sector after graduating from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
"She's got public service in her bones," Sen. Schumer said. "She wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, no one plucked her out and said, 'we're going to make you Manhattan Borough President.' She got here the old-fashioned way - she earned it."
Public Advocate Letitia James called Brewer "a modern day Eleanor Roosevelt" and spoke of her work in the women's movement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke at the ceremony, calling Brewer "a partner, a good friend and an old friend." He praised her and husband Cal Snyder for raising 35 foster children over several decades and pointed to that as an example of Brewer applying her public views in her private life. De Blasio also credited Brewer for her work in the city council on making parks and beaches smoke-free, passing paid sick leave legislation, and creating open-data laws that make city government more transparent.
Brewer was sworn in by New York State Supreme Court Justice Debra A. James, and spoke about continuing the track record she established in the city council at the borough level.
"If you supported me because of who I am, and what I've stood for and accomplished, you will get nothing less from me as Borough President," she said. "I will continue to have an accessible office, an experienced and dedicated staff, a strong commitment to transparency and accountability and a dedication to a city government that works from the ground up."
Indeed, during the ceremony, attendees were encouraged to text, tweet or email Brewer with the answer to the question, "What would you like to see the Manhattan Borough President accomplish?"
In her speech, Brewer mentioned some of her goals for her first term, including strengthening arts and technology education in public schools, creating better access to the city's open data through more available and widespread internet access, and smart and fair development that includes affordable and moderate-to-middle-income housing.
"Some might describe my agenda as overly idealistic," Brewer said. "But a passion for issues, building interconnectedness, and stepping up to solve problems is what drives me, for better or worse."
Brewer also broke with tradition by announcing the appointment of two deputy borough presidents (normally there is only one); Aldrin Rafael Bonilla will be the deputy borough president for community and borough affairs, and Joseph N. Garba will be the deputy borough president for policy and budget.