By Jeremy Walsh
City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) kicked off his first term with style in a two-hour-long bash at Queensborough Community College Sunday.
Weprin takes over the seat from his brother, David Weprin, after spending 15 years in the state Assembly. He said he was worried few people would be enthusiastic because he did not have the mystique of idealism associated with fresh-faced candidates.
“You’re not going to change the world, but you can change people’s lives a little bit at a time,” he said of his philosophy.
With performances by students from Francis Lewis High School, PS 203 and the Noopura Dance Group, the Council district’s talent was well-represented, as were the state’s political ranks — and Mr. Met, the baseball-headed mascot who invited the new councilman to toss a few T-shirts to children in the screaming audience.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) recalled the councilman’s father, the late Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, whom he credited with the redistricting that allowed Schumer’s political career to flourish.
“His amazing talent %u2026 was passed on to all three of his sons,” Schumer said.
Mark Weprin also got a glowing endorsement from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who fondly recalled his time in the Assembly with Mark Weprin.
“We’re going through a very tough time in the state and in the city,” he said. “With Mark Weprin, you have a permanent friend.”
City Comptroller John Liu said Mark Weprin was well-qualified to take over his brother’s seat.
“He’s going to hit the ground running because this is a person who knows government and knows the district like the back of his hand,” Liu said.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) appointed Mark Weprin to be the head of the Council Zoning Committee.
“You want to have somebody in that post who is completely trustworthy,” she said. “That’s why we picked Mark Weprin.”
Parental influence was a theme Mark Weprin returned to in his own address. He praised his mother, Sylvia, who came to the United States from Cuba as a child.
“It reminds me just how courageous immigrants to this country are,” he said, noting his first bill in the Council calls for the city’s uniformed services to stop banning the wearing of religious garments like yarmulkes and turbans.
Weprin also said he would push to revise the test-centric way the city evaluates the performance of its schools.
“When you focus on standardized tests, teachers no longer teach,” he said.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.