On Sunday, January 5, Helen Rosenthal was joined by 500 supporters, friends, family members, politicians and now-constituents as she was sworn in as the Upper West Side's city council member. Rosenthal succeeds Gale Brewer, who served in the seat for three terms and was elected as Manhattan borough president, and previously Ronnie Eldridge, who also served for three terms. Both former council members gave glowing speeches praising Rosenthal for picking up the progressive torch they had each carried, and Eldridge delivered the oath of office to Rosenthal.
Addressing the enthusiastic crowd gathered at John Jay college, Rosenthal promised to continue the work she pledged to undertake in her campaign, with a focus on maintaining the middle class and supporting lower-income New Yorkers. She cited a notorious homeless shelter on 95th Street as a flashpoint of problems, calling it a "trifecta of disappointment" that does a disservice to homeless people who are housed there, permanent residents of the building, and the surrounding community, while the owners get rich off of city contracts. "We must stop squandering our limited tax dollars," Rosenthal said.
She also spoke about the need to preserve school seats for District 3 students at the Beacon building and throughout the West Side.
The new council member, as well as others who introduced her, also invoked her history as a city budget wonk and vowed to be a voice of fiscal scrutiny and reason in the council.
Rosenthal also thanked her predecessors, calling Brewer a "tough act to follow" and noting that "she and her clones attend at least six meetings a night." She said that Eldridge "taught me how to bring my head out of the weeds and see a big picture."