Here is Harlem Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s remarks at the 7th annual State of the District Address for District 10 at the Salome Ureña Educational Campus:
Good Afternoon, welcome to our seventh State of the District Address. Bienvenidos a nuestro septimo reporte de nuestra gestion en nuestro distrito.
Distinguished guests, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, State Comptroller DiNapoli, Public Advocate James, and Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa…Thank you all!
A special thank you to my staff and volunteers, for all you have done to make today possible! You’re the best team an elected official can have. Thank you. Gracias de Nuevo. Let’s give them a rounded applause.
First of all, I would like you to join me in a moment silence for the people of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, the Virgin Islands and the rest of the Caribbean.
Today I am pleased to announce that together with Messiah and our local schools, we are launching an effort to collect school supplies for the children in those areas.
Commissioners, elected officials, executive directors, community leaders… Ladies and gentleman, thank you all for coming.
I want to thank my family, my partner Cristina and my beautiful daughters Yarisa and Ysla, who everyday inspire my work, my life and my vision for a better tomorrow.
I want to thank my whole family, especially my parents, my late father Ydanis, my mother Lidia, my mother-law Minerva Mauricio and the leader of the Rodriguez family, our sister Zoila.
Gracias al equipo de mi oficia, a mis voluntaries, quienes juntos forman el major equipo que pueda tener un official electo.
Gracias a mi familia, mi esposa Cristina, mis hijas Ysla y Yarisa, mi suegra Minerva Mauricio, y a la lider de nuestra familia, nuestra hermana Zoila.
Let’s also give a big round of applause to our host, the great schools of the Salome Ureña de Henriquez Educational Campus and its administration. We felt right at home last year so we came back!
It is great to see you all again.
This community, one that I have called home for over 30 years, and which I have had the pleasure to represent for nearly eight of those years, is a gem, hidden in our great metropolis.
Esta comunidad, la cual he llamado mi hogar durante más de 30 años, y a la cual he tenido el placer de representar durante casi 8 de esos años, es una joya oculta en nuestra gran metrópolis.
So many of us call Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill our home because, we and our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents came here from another country escaping hardship and in search of a better future. And because of our resiliency we have persevered against many obstacles.
Many of us were here during the tough years of the 80s and 90s. While others fled our community, most of us stayed and have been a part of the rebuilding of our community.
Muchos de nosotros estuvimos aquí durante los años difíciles de la década de los 80 y 90. Mientras otros se fueron de nuestra comunidad, la mayoría de nosotros permanecimos aquí, y hemos sido parte de la reconstrucción de nuestra comunidad.
More and more people have come to appreciate this GEM that is Northern Manhattan, Which is largely surrounded by water. We are grateful to have partners like Row New York and New York Restoration Project working with us now and in the future as we look towards opening up the waterfront east of 10th Avenue. We have consistently contributed to maintaining our green spaces.
Now take a moment to look at investments that we have made to our green spaces.
Tomemos ahora un momento para ver las inversiones que hemos hecho en nuestras áreas verdes.
With this investment we are making our green spaces safer, more accessible, while increasing opportunities for our youth to become healthier while engaging in different sports.
On the housing front, Community Board 12 has the largest affordable housing stock in the city. We must preserve this valuable asset and fight to increase the number of affordable apartments to serve our working and middle class families. In the past, no true investment was made in our community to develop housing.
We must continue to provide protection to our residents by expanding tenant legal services. Through Council initiatives and in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, we have provided more than $2 Million dollars for tenant advocacy and representation to agencies such as Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, Manhattan Legal Services and Legal Aid Society.
We have already seen what has happened over the last 20 years; longtime residents are priced out, or harassed out. We must not let that happen again.
I will continue investing in legal services and support the development of affordable housing as is proposed in both the Inwood Library and through the Inwood NYC rezoning process.
Many of you are concerned about the fate of the library during construction and after. Let me be clear, I am committed to making the development of the library a state of the art facility and the building above it one hundred percent affordable, where working families will have a decent place to raise their children.
Yo comparto la real preocupacion de nuestra comunidad por la cantidad de nuestras hermanas y hermanos que han sido forzados a dejar sus apartamentos. Esto ha estado ocurriendo por mas de 20 anos. Con mis colegas en el gobierno, con City Hall y los miembros de nuestra comunidad estare trabajando para construir viviendas con un alto porciento asequible para la clase trabajadora y la clase media.
Muchos de ustedes tienen muchas preguntas sobre la biblioteca de Inwood y el edificio donde esta se encuentra. Escuchen me bien yo estoy comprometido a hacer que el proyecto de la biblioteca sea una facilidad de último modelo y que el edificio encima de esta sea 100% asequible. Un edificio en el cual las familias trabajadoras tendrán un lugar decente donde criar a sus hijos.
I commit that I will only vote for the Inwood Library development if a temporary home for the library is guaranteed. The library will be the same size or larger with more resources and areas dedicated to the arts, education and technology. United we will all make this project a success.
Yo me comprometo a que únicamente votaré por el proyecto, si se garantiza otro lugar temporario para la biblioteca. La biblioteca tendrá el mismo tamaño o más con mayores recursos y áreas dedicadas a las artes, la educación y la tecnología.
Unidos haremos que este proyecto sea un éxito.
Keeping our attention on increasing resources and ensuring that we are well equipped for the future. We have begun making investments in STEM. With partners like AALSTEM, City College, CUNY IN THE HEIGHTS, Columbia University, Yeshiva University, our CBO’s and our local schools we will expand and develop new STEM programs.
Already you can see real investments. I have allocated over $2.8 Million Dollars for STEM education and technology for our children, and there is more to come. With the leadership of Superintendent Manny Ramirez, School District 6 will receive a 15 million dollars grant for technology.
These investments contribute to the improvement of our schools and the quality of education our children receive. Our work in education must continue.
For the first time in many years, all schools in District Six are in good standing. However, our work in education is not done, with only 48% of our students achieving college readiness we know there is much more work to be done, starting in early childhood education.
Por vez primera en muchos años, todas las escuelas en el Distrito Seis están en buena posición. Sin embargo, nuestra labor en la educación no está terminada, con solamente el 48% de nuestros estudiantes logrando la preparación para la universidad nosotros sabemos que queda mucho trabajo por realizar, comenzando con la educación a temprana edad.
We must continue to improve our ability to hire more qualified guidance counselors, teachers, and parent coordinators to meet the need of our student population. This is only one area of need within our schools. We must also continue to build more parental engagement.
I would like to recognize the parent leaders, teachers, and administrators here today, who are all dedicated to educating our children and creating the next leaders of our city. Please stand up.
Hoy reconocemos a los padres líderes, maestros y administradores aquí presentes, quienes están todos dedicados a educar a nuestra niñez y formar los nuevos líderes de nuestra ciudad. Ninos y Ninas que seran la nueva Clase Media de nuestra Ciudad. Favor ponerse de pié.
Equally as important is our need to embrace our cultural identities. We live in a vibrant diverse community and as we grow in our understanding of our own and each other’s cultural background, we will gain a greater ability to unify our community. We must celebrate all our cultural institutions, our museums, art and music venues and our historic landmarks within our community.
Further, we must continue to work with citywide prestigious cultural institutions to make arts and culture more accessible to the residents in underserved communities such as ours.
Institutions such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Broadway League, all City-wide museums among others, are invited to continue expanding their presence in Northern Manhattan.
Working with my colleagues in the council we restored the majority of the funding for citywide cultural institutions. At the local level, I have allocated over $500,000 Dollars to our institutions. Please take a look at the screen.
Among the greatest of our treasures are our seniors. I am almost there! We have the responsibility to thank, celebrate, protect, and support them. By supporting them we are supporting ourselves. That is why I have worked to provide funding necessary to maintain quality services in our senior centers. Working with the Council we restored funds to the Department of Aging. I have also provided additional discretionary funding .
In addition, our communities economic backbone is under attack, we are rapidly losing our small businesses. Our office will continue to work alongside the Washington Heights BID, the Broadway BID, Chamber of Commerce, merchants along our commercial corridors: Dyckman, 181st Street, 207th street, Broadway and 10th Avenue, providing any and all possible assistance to help stabilize our small businesses. As we continue to have discussions and plans to develop our community, we will keep small business at the forefront of the conversation.
We must also keep our eyes on the redevelopment of the George Washington Bus Terminal. Though this project is not perfect, it will create hundreds of jobs and improve bus service within the region. Including Greyhound who already is providing service to Philadelphia, Washington D.C, Baltimore and soon to Upstate New York.
Complimenting my work on the local level, my citywide work have been expansive. This year alone we organized the 2nd annual Car Free NYC, the first-ever Summit on Latinos in NYC, and the first-ever Riders Transit Tour.
Cities around the world, in particular Paris, have been leaders in encouraging its residents to use alternative, cleaner transportation options by closing down major roads. New York City should not be left behind. Get Ready! Next year, Sunday, April 22nd we will be holding our 3rd Car Free Day in celebration of Mother Earth.
Another great success was the Summit on Latinos! The theme of this summit was to analyze the impact of Latinos on our city. A report currently in progress indicating the findings will be released in the coming months.
Otro gran éxito lo fué la Cumbre sobre Latinos! El tema de ésta cumbre lo fué analizar el impacto de los Latinos en nuestra ciudad. Un reporte actualmente en progreso indicando los descubrimientos será dado a conocer en los próximos meses.
It is our hope that our continued work with various institutes next year, will further document the disparity in Latino representation in leadership positions in government.
Let me also share with you my role as the Chairman of the committee of transportation. I have been at the forefront in making our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclist alike, working with my colleagues and partners such as Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets.
I have fought to bring attentions and solutions for our ailing mass transit system. I have worked tirelessly to protect the livery and taxi industry in New York City.
I have been a leading voice for the Fair Fares initiative to ensure low-income families have access to our transit system, critical for them to get to work and school. I want to thank my friends at Riders Alliance for organizing around this issue. We will return to the discussion on Fair Fares again next year and we will not rest until this discounted program is a reality. Are you ready to fight with me?!
During the last four years, the committee has passed a historic number of legislation aimed at improving transit throughout our great city. Here is a highlight of these bills.
I am so proud of the work we have been able to achieve in the past four years. Along with the legislation that has already gone through the Transportation committee, there is legislation pending that is directed at influencing policy in order to shape our public health laws.
That is the Hookah bill. This proposed bill would limit the places where the use of Hookah would be allowed, increase the age of any one purchasing it to 21 and mandate that establishments selling this product post signage detailing the health risk associated with the use of Hookah. Don’t forget 40 minutes of Hookah is equal to 120 cigarettes.
Our city has been a leader in anti-smoking efforts and the package of bills we passed at the council are aimed at avoiding a public health crisis in our youth and adults.
I will continue to use my energies to affect serious changes in citywide policies and here in our community.
Earlier this year I brought together respected leaders of large non-profit organizations, service providers and other community stakeholders to create the Northern Manhattan Agenda.
Led by a Steering Committee, five working groups representing Education, Housing, Economic Development, Health, Arts and Culture have been meeting over the past months. They seek to identify community needs, foster collaboration among agencies, seek resources and create strategies to maximize existing resources.
This body will continue to play a major role in the growth and development of our community.
I would like to call the members of the Steering Committee to join me on the stage:
- Yvonne Stennett
- Sandra Harris
- Charlie Corliss
- Fern Hertzberg
- Angelina Ramirez
- Mike Fitelson
- Rosita Romero
- Mino Lora
- Seny Taveras
- Eddie Silverio
Ladies and Gentleman, Our community sits at the top of the Island overlooking our great city.
A city of immigrants that can be traced back to Juan Rodriguez, a free black man from Hispaniola who arrived in 1613- who became the first non-native American to settle in New York City. We are a city and a community that supports DACA and supports Amanda Morales and the rights of all immigrants. Immigrants with strong accents such as myself or those like my daughters who were born here can still contribute greatly to our city.
We are a magnificent community rich in culture and ethnic diversity. We have solid institutions, beautiful architecture, stoic landmarks, and natural forestry.
The history of our community is filled with events that have demonstrated our resilience, documenting victory after victory.
We produced inspirational leaders, heroes and sheroes, writers, and musicians. We made it to Broadway!
Together we have achieved so much and together we will continue to build a strong community and a city for all.
Muchas Gracias y Si Se Puede!
Read more about Ydanis Rodriguez here