Barry Grodenchik was inaugurated Sunday as the City Council representative of District 23 in a ceremony at Queens Village’s Martin Van Buren High School attended by old friends as well as city and state political heavyweights.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was among the speakers at the ceremony, along with Congresswoman Grace Meng, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Assemblyman David Weprin.
Schumer called Grodenchik a “son of Queens” in reference to the councilman’s formative years in the Pomonok Houses and as a Jamaica High School student, and said that Grodenchik has already done a great deal of public service in his adult life.
“He’s great at putting together coalitions. He’s great at getting things done,” Schumer said. “So we can say to Barry that he got here the old-fashioned way: he earned it.”
Although many had known Grodenchik as a former assemblyman or through his work in the offices of Katz and former Borough President Claire Shulman, some of the speakers were longtime friends proud to see Grodenchik take office in the City Council.
Martin Van Buren Principal Sam Sochet spoke as a childhood friend of the new councilman. He said that he and Grodenchik challenged each other intellectually, and their friendly rivalry inspired him to read The New York Times at age 9 after he saw Grodenchik doing the same.
“Barry, indirectly, believe it or not, you’re the reason I’m here right now,” Sochet said.
Before he performed the oath of office, Queens Supreme Court Justice Lee Mayersohn said that Grodenchik has been one of his dearest friends for more than 40 years.
“Although my position as a supreme court justice precludes me from making any political speeches, I can say that Barry is truly one of the warmest and most caring people I have ever known,” Mayersohn said.
Following all of the well-wishing remarks and the oath of office, Grodenchik gave his inaugural address, thanking his friends and family for their support throughout his campaign.
Grodenchik focused on some of the most pressing issues facing District 23, including finding a suitable use for the campus at the former Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, building a bathroom to accompany the outdoor sport facilities at the 32-acre Padavan campus, and securing funding for the playground at P.S. 133.
“We have a great district here, and we have some challenges,” Grodenchik said. “But I knocked on almost 5,000 doors during the summer and the fall, and some of the happiest people in the city of New York are right here in eastern Queens.”