Calling her “Amazing Grace,” for all her accomplishments, Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) installed Grace Meng as assemblywoman from the 22nd District Saturday at Queens College.
Meng became the third Asian-American to take that seat after beating incumbent Ellen Young last fall. Prior to that, her father, Jimmy Meng, held the position for one term, before retiring due to ill health.
Her installation ceremony was held before a packed audience of about 300 at the LeFrak Concert Hall on campus. Friends, family and fellow politicians filled the auditorium for the afternoon event.
Crowley, who heads the Queens Democratic organization, started out as a member of the Assembly himself. He told the audience Meng had already accomplished much before being elected. A law school graduate, she ran her father’s political campaign and then managed his district office.
She later organized a volunteer group for young professionals to help translate documents for the poor and elderly. Known as FOCUS, the organization has held regular volunteer days in the community.
Many Queens Democratic leaders spoke a few words commending Meng, including state Sen. Toby Stavisky of Flushing, and Assembly members Audrey Pheffer of Ozone Park and Jose Peralta of Jackson Heights. Representing the City Council were John Liu of Flushing, Tony Avella of Bayside and Eric Gioia of Sunnyside.
Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn, Queens) said Meng understands the issues. “She knows how to solve problems. She’s a decent, kind person and we are all lucky to have her,” Weiner added.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who also participated in the program, said the Assembly needs great leadership to speak out and make tough decisions like Meng. The comptroller, who hails from Long Island, also reminded the audience that he previously served in the Assembly for 20 years.
But the place of honor went to New York’s senior senator, Charles Schumer, who was first to praise the new assemblywoman. “She worked so long and hard,” Schumer said. “There is no silver spoon in her mouth. She earned it.”
He went on to say it was a great day not only for Meng but her family, the 22nd District and America. “Democracy is a precious thing in America. You elected one of our best,” Schumer said.
Meng was inducted by Crowley, while her husband, Wayne Kye, and one-year-old son, Tyler, witnessed the event. Held by his father, Tyler was the model toddler, quiet during his mother’s ceremony.
In her acceptance speech, Meng vowed to to be open and accessible to her constituency, to improve the lives of children and seniors and help neighborhoods and small business owners.
“Embark with me on my new journey,” she said. “We have to take ownership of our communities.”
Speaking about the economy, Meng added: “We will come out of this okay.”
She called her election “an honored opportunity,” and said she wants to be “a true public servant” to those she represents.
Meng, 34, is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, an institution Schumer called harder to get into than Harvard. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan and got her law degree at Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan.