Rafael Salamanca, who recently won the special election for Council District 17, was sworn into office last Wednesday, March 9, at a City Council meeting in Manhattan.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito escorted Salamanca into a City Hall room full of cheers, where he then repeated the solemn oath of office performed by clerk of the council Michael McSweeney.
The councilmember swore to uphold the constitution of the state of New York to the best of his ability before the crowd erupted in applause.
Salamanca’s wife, step-son and baby girl were present at the ceremony, as was Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who expressed his congratulations.
“It’s a humbling experience,” said Salamanca of his new position, “It’s frightening at the same time, there’s a lot of work to get done.”
In terms of his first moves in office, Salamanca has many ideas.
“We need to hit the ground running,” he said.
Rafael is currently working with different organizations on their budget requests to ensure the district is getting a fair share of city funding.
“I want to make sure my constituency will benefit,” said Salamanca.
The new councilman has also been meeting with NYC Housing Authority residents and has walked through many developments, to observe first hand the dire need for change.
Broken elevators, lighting issues, and the all around dirty appearance of buildings are some of the most noticable problems.
Salamanca realizes that improving NYCHA conditions will be a long-term project.
For now however, he is trying to implement immediate change in NYCHA properties by making small but significant improvements like replacing broken light bulbs so hallways will be more safe.
He is also working with senior groups to assist with providing free lunch programs to the elderly.
In early April, Salamanca will be moving his office to a more central location at the corner of Southern Boulevard and Westchester Avenue.
Salamanca was born and raised in District 17.
The area covers much of the south Bronx including neighborhoods Hunts Point, Longwood, Melrose, and Soundview.
He replaced Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo who resigned her seat to take high-paying job with a non-profit agency.
He will have to run again in September 2017.