By JORDAN GIBBONS
Leroy Comrie was sworn-in as State Senator for the 14th District in Albany last week, and to celebrate his new role in New York with his constituents and colleagues, he held a ceremonial inauguration at York College on Sunday.
Hundreds of residents, elected officials, local clergy and Comrie’s family members packed into the York College Atrium for the event that was filled with stories about Comrie’s path through politics and his dedicated service to the community that he presided over as a City Councilman for 12 years.
Comrie credited his family, friends and colleagues with helping him to reach the goals that he has achieved in his life.
“We all need each other for me to be successful,” he said. “And it’s only through your strength, it’s only through your focus and it’s only through your activism that I’ve been able to be the person that you’ve made me to be. I’m going to need your guidance now, more than ever.”
Former City Councilman Archie Spigner led off the list of officials scheduled to speak at the event since he helped Comrie get his start in politics.
Spigner said he met Comrie in 1982 when he rode his bike to Spigner’s district office to interview for a job.
“Having a keen eye for talent and people who have motivation, I recognized those quality characteristics in Leroy Comrie right away,” Spigner said. “We have been friends ever since. The fact that I was his employer and that he has been my City Councilman did not change that. He has never, ever disappointed me.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) highlighted Comrie small beginnings as a resident of Jamaica and the son of a blue-collar worker.
“He didn’t start out with a silver spoon in his mouth,” Schumer said. “He climbed that ladder, rung by rung. Leroy, you got here the old-fashioned way, you earned it.”
Public Advocate Letitia James said that Comrie was the first person who congratulated her when she became a Councilwoman and he was the person she would turn to when she needed something accomplished.
She referenced his contributions to education, such as providing funding for libraries and technological advancements in schools, as well as funding parks and senior programs.
“I would always run to Leroy when I needed to get things done,” she said. “He has transformed the lives of a countless number of individuals in his district and I would argue throughout the Borough of Queens, because of his commitment to excellence and his commitment to public service.”
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), who took over Comrie’s seat on the City Council, said Comrie makes it look easy and he helped convinced Miller to run for office.
“All of us who have gathered here today are merely a testament to this great man,” Miller said and went on to acknowledge Comrie’s wife, Marcia, and children, Liana and Ben. “Thank you for allowing us to have Leroy. All that I am doing, I owe to him.”
Comrie remained humble and modest as usual during his speech, placing all the credit on the people around him and his constituents who keep him informed about what is important to the community.
As far as starting his new role in Albany, Comrie said there is no time to breathe considering the important issues that will be debated on the Senate floor in the coming weeks, such as police-community relations, Common Core, mayoral control over schools, rent laws, the budget surplus, minimum wage, the Women’s Equality Act and more.
“I’m going to need your advice and input on all of these issues in order for me to be effective,” he said. “So that I can speak to the issues in a way that my colleagues in Albany in the State Senate will understand that I care about the district, that I care about making sure the 14th District is respected, that the 14th District is heard and that the 14th District gets what it needs and a bit more.”
Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400, Ext. 123, email@example.com or @jgibbons2.