Harlem, NY – Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs’s inauguration last night was historic. He was sworn in as the first formerly incarcerated person to be elected to the New York State Legislature.
Assemblymember Gibbs took office on January 26, 2022 after receiving ~80% of the vote in the recent special election to fill the vacant seat in New York’s 68th Assembly district, which encompasses East Harlem and Randall’s Island, and parts of the UES and Central Harlem. Elected officials including Mayor Eric Adams, Senator Charles Schumer, Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, Congressmembers Adriano Espaillat and Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, and other elected officials and community leaders came to speak in support of Assemblymember Gibbs.
Assemblymember Gibbs released the following statement on what his historic swearing-in means to him:
“I went from a 17-year-old at Rikers Island to someone working every day on behalf of my community. Now, I am the first formerly incarcerated member of our state legislature. I turned my life around, which is why I find it fitting that I was elected at this moment.
“Our neighborhood, our City, and our State are all at a crossroads. We lost a lot of our neighbors during the pandemic. Those were our friends and family members. Those were the senior citizens who have taken care of us for decades. The pandemic was a tragedy, but we must not take what it taught us for granted: that there are deep, deep inequalities present in our City and State. Just like I turned my life around, I’m going to spend every waking moment of my time as Assemblymember turning our City and State around. We have so much potential to rebuild. We need a strong comeback that prioritizes equity, public safety, and justice. We need to ensure that we provide resources for our hospitals in every neighborhood, for our public schools in every neighborhood, for affordable housing in every neighborhood, and for our small businesses in every neighborhood. That’s why I’m eager to get to work fighting for my constituents in Albany.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re looking at a 17-year-old kid wrapped up in violence, a small business owner devastated by the pandemic, a parent struggling to make ends meet, or a family living in a crumbling NYCHA development –– if we come together as a community, with love in our hearts and a willingness to provide support and resources, there is no situation we can’t fix.
“I served time in prison, and also represent a district where people are seriously afraid of violence. I know, though, that it is possible to create a City that is more just and more safe. I will work hand in hand with Mayor Adams and every elected official to ensure those two qualities are never again thought of as being in conflict.”