BP Gibson touts strong economic recovery, plenty of Bronx pride in State of the Borough address

Gibson delivers her second State of the Borough address in the Regis Philbin Auditorium at Cardinal Hayes High School on April 18, 2024.
Photo Emily Swanson

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson promoted the Bronx as “a borough of legends” and promised big funding for local projects in her second State of the Borough address on Thursday, April 18.

Vanessa Gibson delivered her second State of the Borough address on Thursday, April 18, before a full house at Cardinal Hayes High School.Photo courtesy BP Gibson’s office

Gibson, 14th Bronx borough president and the first Black woman to fill the role, entered the auditorium from the back, waving down the aisles as Jill Scott song repeated the lyrics, “Living my life like it’s golden.” 

Borough President Vanessa Gibson heads to the stage to deliver her second annual State of the Borough address.Photo courtesy of BP Gibson’s Office

In her address, which lasted about an hour, Gibson laid out her vision for an inclusive, dynamic borough that enables Bronx kids to remain in the Bronx as adults. 

She touted a $6 million investment in the borough’s hospitals and public health facilities, a $1 million music studio at public school C.S. 55, the reopening of the Bronx Night Market and the unprecedented $1 billion gift by Ruth Gottesman to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine that will enable free tuition in perpetuity. 

Vanessa Gibson delivered her second State of the Borough address on Thursday, April 18, before a full house at Cardinal Hayes High School.Photo courtesy BP Gibson’s office

Gibson also used the speech to publicly commit to funding some major projects. She promised $2 million for the Kingsbridge Armory and vowed to fully fund an opioid treatment center in the South Bronx. She also promised to keep working toward constructing a birthing center in the Bronx, as high Black maternal mortality rates has become one of her signature issues. 

Gibson also said she will allocate capital funds toward more security cameras in public areas; although she did not specify where, she said constituents have been asking for more cameras as one tool for improving safety in the borough. 

As for the economic outlook, Gibson said she has received positive news from State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who has identified the South Bronx as an area that bounced back unexpectedly well from the pandemic crisis. She cited an unemployment rate of 6.6%, down from about 26% during the height of the pandemic. 

“Jobs are up, wages are up and the economy is strong,” said Gibson. 

The packed crowd listens intently during Borough president Vanessa Gibson’s second State of the Borough address on Thursday, April 18.Photo courtesy BP Gibosn’s office

Though the address matched her usual positivity, Gibson addressed global tensions that are affecting Bronxites, especially the ongoing war in Gaza, in the context of hate crimes motivated by both antisemitism and Islamophobia.

In a borough with sizeable Jewish and Muslim communities, Gibson was careful to denounce hate against all people — motivated by religion, race, ability, sexual orientation or any other factor — and said that Bronxites “should never shy away from the tough conversations we must have.” 

Looking ahead, Gibson has committed to running for reelection in 2025, though she did not mention it in Thursday’s speech — and there is a chance that City Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr., running up against the term limit, may run against her.

Salamanca Jr. registered with the Campaign Finance Board as a participant in the race for Bronx Borough President, but he has not yet announced whether or not he will actually launch a campaign. 

Until then, Gibson appears to relish her time serving as the borough’s ultimate cheerleader.

“I am so excited for where we are going,” she told the crowd. 

Several of Gibson’s partners in government were in attendance for the State of the Borough address, including Mayor Eric Adams, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, District Attorney Darcel Clark, and City Council Members Riley, Sanchez, Marmorato and Stevens. Two of Gibson’s fellow borough presidents, Mark Levine of Manhattan and Donovan Richards of Queens, were also in the crowd.

Reach Emily Swanson at eswanson@schnepsmedia.com or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes