NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Mayor Noam Bramson was overcome with emotion not once but twice during tonight’s annual State of the City Address in New Rochelle.
Delivered for the first time in more than 30 years at City Hall to an overflow crowd, the Mayor used the second half of his 56 minute speech to deliver a thinly-veiled rebuke to President Donald Trump and his supporters in the form of recognizing immigrants living in New Rochelle, some legal some not, who have made a positive contribution to their local community and society overall.
The Mayor struggled to hold back tears as he recounted the story of the Anaya Family. He introduced Martin and Blanca Anaya as “both born in Mexico” having “arrived here as undocumented immigrants” and now “U.S. citizens living in the East End of New Rochelle”.
Bramson broke down completely as he announced that their younger daughter Melanie is this year’s salutatorian of New Rochelle High
School. The audience rose and gave the parents a standing ovation. The applause grew louder as Bramson announced she will attend Brown University and has already been admitted to Medical School.
He broke down again moments later talking about Benjamin Ferencz who at age 97 is the last living prosecutor from the Nuremberg Trials in post-war Germany.
Over the course of the speech, Bramson mingled local and national issues, calling on citizens to become more engaged in both local and national challenges in order to address “a moment of unprecedented progress and possibility” for the City of New Rochelle and “of unprecedented concern and division” for the United States.
On the local level, “New Rochelle is making positive strides in every direction,” said Bramson, citing the city’s lowest crime rate in 56 years, best municipal bond rating in more than 80 years, and highest local sales volume in history.
Bramson put a special focus on downtown development, declaring that “New Rochelle has the hottest emerging market in the entire Hudson Valley” and telling his audience that “if the national economy holds, then in just two or three years, you will be astounded by the changes, with more than a dozen projects moving forward.”
Bramson went on to highlight several environmental accomplishments, including the provision of 100% renewable electricity to residents and businesses, the installation of energy-efficient LED streetlights, the introduction of electric vehicle charging stations, and the enhancement of several local parks.
“As we become more safe and prosperous,” continued Bramson, “New Rochelle is also becoming more sustainable.”
Bramson previewed several initiatives that will unfold in 2017, such as the launch of Westchester’s first bike share program and the installation of Verizon’s innovative Palo Kiosks, to increase citizen engagement and also serve as high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots.
“A connected community is a strong community,” said Bramson, declaring that New Rochelle is determined “to compete for and win the jobs, the lifestyles, and the opportunities of tomorrow.”
Bramson credited New Rochelle’s “burgeoning sense of optimism and confidence” to three big choices, all of which were made on a unanimous, bipartisan basis by the City Council: creating and adopting our downtown plan, investing in infrastructure with a 10-year program of capital investments totaling nearly $150 million and relocating the City’s DPW operations center to allow waterfront development on Echo Bay.
After 26 minutes on local issues, Bramson took on a more somber tone in addressing the political direction of the country. His remarks were greeted with tremendous enthusiasm by most in the audience.
“When the young children of immigrants here in New Rochelle are literally reduced to tears, when drastic changes in health insurance threaten the medical care and financial security of thousands of our own residents, when a city founded by refugees fleeing religious persecution more than three hundred years ago is told to slam the door on refugees today, we have a responsibility to speak out,” said Bramson.
“So in case there is any doubt or fear, let it be known that in this community, all of us are valued, respected, and welcomed – whoever we are or wherever we come from.”
Bramson concluded by introducing New Rochelle residents who had made exceptional contributions to the community, and all of whom are foreign-born:
- Mille Radonjic (Amy’s Greenhouse at Barnard School)
- Martin & Blanca Anaya (noted above)
- Farooq Kathwari (Chairman of Ethan Allen)
- Doug & Mira Webb (United Nations)
- Benjamin Ferencz (noted above)
“These remarkable men and women – from Montenegro, from Mexico, from Kashmir and Pakistan, from Ireland, from Namibia and Finland, from Transylvania – are not visitors to New Rochelle. They are not guests in New Rochelle. They are New Rochelle. They are the best of New Rochelle. They are what makes New Rochelle great. They are what makes America great.” said Bramson.
Full text of the 2017 State of the City Address.
The event was preceded by “Taste of New Rochelle” where a dozen restaurants from New Rochelle offered samples of their offerings. Among them Jolo’s Kitchen, Pop’s Espresso, The Wooden Spoon, Korean BBQ and more.