This is the time of year for the formal, though not required, swearing-in ceremonies of elected officials in their home districts. They are usually for rookie legislators, like the one on Saturday night at the stately Gould Memorial Hall (it's almost Capitol-like) at Bronx Community College for newly minted State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a newcomer politician who is no newcomer to politics, having worked on the staff of other legislators (Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrea Stewart-Cousins) and on the 2008 Obama campaign in Florida.
Rivera was backed by a star-studded cast of Democrats and they all seemed to want to be there for the event -Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, current borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr., former borough president Fernando Ferrer – marking a rare, lopsided victory over the powerful and controversial incumbent Pedro Espada.
Ferrer, who spoke seamlessly, almost poetically, without notes (he told me at the reception later that he learned his oratorical skills on that very campus when it was NYU from Professor Jack Hasch who made students read an article for three minutes and then speak about it for three minutes) welcomed Rivera and expressed a relief that was a common theme of the evening.
“We at last, after 34 flaky years have a great senator in [the 33rd] District who will make us proud,” Ferrer declared, referring to Rivera's two predecessors, Efrain Gonzalez, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for fraud, and Israel Ruiz, a perennial burr under the saddle of the borough's Democratic establishment, who also spent time in jail for lying on a loan application.