The race to replace her is heating up, but Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said in her State of the Borough speech Tuesday that she has a lot more to do before she leaves office. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
Her final State of the Borough address was certainly not a goodbye speech for the Queens borough president. In fact, Helen Marshall used the platform to unveil new initiatives she said she will launch during her final months in office.
"Over the next year, my office will allocate $2 million to purchase mobile science labs for every one of the 30 Queens schools that do not currently have them," Marshall said.
Her office is also looking to attract more tech companies to Long Island City.
"To support this tech boom, my office will develop a strategic plan to create a tech zone on the Queens side of the East River," Marshall said. "I am happy to report that we have just been awarded a $150,000 state grant."
Marshall's announcements drew applause from the audience, but in between the cheers was a somber moment to reflect on the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Michael McDonnell shared his heroic tale of rescuing his Belle Harbor neighbors from the fires and flood waters with the help of a surfer named Dylan Smith. Smith died last month in a surfing accident in Puerto Rico.
"We will all miss you," McDonnell said.
Marshall also spoke of the devastation, but focused mostly on her accomplishments since taking office in 2002, which includes the revitalization of many parks, libraries and neighborhoods.
The audience was filled with her supporters. One, local resident Pamela Hazel, was critical of an ongoing neighborhood problem.
"Helen Marshall spoke about all the icons, and she talked about all the new buildings in Jamaica, but she did not talk about the garbage," Hazel said. "And the garbage, I mean, it's an eyesore."
Most, though, enjoyed the speech.
"I'm happy to see the successes that she's made," said one attendee.
A number of candidates looking to replace Marshall were also in the crowd. About a half dozen have already expressed interest in the job. Marshall said she has no plans to endorse any of the candidates in the race.