February 14, 2013
By NYC Councilmember Jumaane D. Williams
The American people heard tonight a vision for America that is bold and common-sense at the same time. President Obama has charted a clear path forward for our country and his partners in government must be up to the task. We cannot accept obstruction and political gamesmanship over our future; the voice of the electorate needs to be respected.
I am grateful for the continued leadership President Obama is showing on gun violence, an issue personal to me and my constituents. The victims deserve a vote in Congress, but even more they deserve to have real reform passed. My district needs federal legislation that not only establishes universal background checks and bans assault weapons, but addresses the dangers of handguns and the challenges mental health pose to our at-risk youth. It will take a holistic approach to address the full scope of this crisis, which is why I support the President's call for universal pre-kindergarten; statistics have shown this measure to raise graduation rates and reduce violent crime.
New York City was well represented in tonight's speech, from the heroism of a registered nurse saving infants during Hurricane Sandy to the academic innovation of P-Tech in Crown Heights, a a unique six-year high school where students can earn a diploma and an associate's degree. Our city must continue to be the focus of new efforts to harness the potential of our people, particularly those looking for work. That is why I hope President Obama will consider Brooklyn as the location for one of his proposed high-tech manufacturing hubs.
I join both Democrats and Republicans in applauding the President's push for comprehensive immigration reform, an idea that is long overdue. This would have a tremendous positive impact on the Caribbean community I am proud to represent, one that has been villainized by the current system and caught in an absurd legal backlog. We must embrace the integral role that immigrants, like my parents, have played in our society and work together to pursue a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented in our country.
Economic opportunity was a key and welcome theme of President Obama's speech I am eager to learn which twenty communities his administration will be partnering with to address the systemic issues they face in escaping cyclical poverty. We must change the fact that where you were born and to whom can greatly impact the success you can achieve. America symbolizes for many the notion that prosperity is accessible to everyone; we must fight to make that true.
I look forward to supporting the high-priority initiatives presented by the President in his State of the Union. The hard work lies ahead of us.