After winning re-election last November for hear second term, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz spoke at her State of the Borough speech today about her first term accomplishments, her goals for the next four years, and, maybe, a World Series-winning Mets team.
Katz, wearing an all-black attire in solidarity with the #MeToo movement, delivered her fourth State of the Borough at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School in Astoria. Among those in attendance included U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, JFK Airport), City Council Member Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village, South Ozone Park), and State Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman (D-Jamaica, Hollis, Rosedale).
Before the main address, Senator and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) highlighted a few of the accomplishments Katz did for the borough and praised her as qualified representative for Queens.
“She got here the old-fashioned way—she earned it,” Schumer said.
Yet the Democratic Senator criticized another Queens native—President Donald Trump. Schumer acknowledged the climate of fear for immigrants created by the White House and vowed to put America on the right path.
“We are telling President Trump, ‘Don’t pick on immigrants,’” he said. “They are the future of America.”
After being introduced by Schumer, Katz emphasized the diversity throughout Queens with over 200 languages spoken and immigrants from more than 190 countries.
She then spoke about the improvements across Queens during her first term in office. For instance, nearly $300 million was spent for capital projects, about one-third of which went to upgraded technology in elementary and junior high schools in the borough.
Moreover, another third went to various institutions and facilities, such as more NYCHA projects, an expanded Joseph Addabbo Family Health Center in Arverne, and a mobile command substation for the NYPD in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“Ten years ago, most families dreamed of moving out east to Long Island, or maybe Jersey,” she said to laughter. “But today, the future is not in the suburbs. The future is in Queens.”
In her second term, Katz is seeking even more changes. She announced the creation of the Queens Complete Count Committee, set to be composed of community groups, to accurately ensure residents are counted in the Census. This would increase federal revenues for the city and, possibly, expand services for New Yorkers.
“Because if we want our fair share, we can’t afford to just be reactive. We must be proactive, and we must be counted,” she said.
Katz spoke about the importance of growing Queens by 2030 to provide for the next generation.
“Queens is the borough of growth, and the borough of families, and with that we must make sure to have the infrastructure to support our families,” she said.
For her, the most important change is developing schools to accommodate students without any serious issues. Queens is first among the five boroughs in student overcapacity and enrollment, yet last for funding per pupil. Katz said she would work with Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration in securing more funding and resources.
“It’s clear we need more, and our families deserve more,” she said.
A few other ideas Katz wants to see by 2030 include ending homelessness among veterans, setting aside NYCHA housing for grandparents raising grandchildren, a continuous bike lane throughout Queens, an $8 billion overhaul of La Guardia Airport, and a soccer stadium near Willets Points for the 2034 FIFA World Cup.
“Together, we’ve all brought Queens so far. And so much more remains to be done. But with a shared vision – our vision – New York’s greatest potential, opportunities, and future are all here,” she said.
Katz ended on her family living in Queens and how she felt confident of providing “something better, something brighter” not just for her children, but kids across the borough.
“Today, the narrative of Manhattan and Brooklyn as being the economic engines leading New York has changed. Queens has changed that narrative with our innovation, our ambition, our drive, our grit. And a little bit of our Queens attitude,” she said.