Melinda Katz spent her early years in public service under the tutelage of former Borough President Claire Shulman,
Come January, the former councilwoman and member of the state Assembly will move up to the chair Shulman filled for more than a decade.
Katz won an expectedly lopsided victory on a night replete with them for New York City Democrats, garnering 80.3 percent of the vote in unofficial totals obtained from the New York City Board of Elections.
Republican Tony Arcabascio got 17 percent, while Jobs and Eduction candidate Everly Brown garnered just 2.6 percent.
“I announced a year and a half ago, and I’ve gotten great support,” Katz told a crowded room in her native Forest Hills. “Some were there from the start and others joined along the way. But even if you just joined today, I thank you.”
Katz ran on her experience in government, a desire to embrace perhaps the most ethnically diverse county in the country, and her plans to increase the borough’s funding and profile.
“We are a county of diversity,” Katz said. “It is an asset, not a flaw.”
Katz said she will fight to not just keep funding for eduction, senior citizens and children’s programs at their current level, but to bring back more from the city.
She did not elaborate on just how she would do so with the city facing a projected $2 billion deficit for the fiscal year starting next July, and with a new mayor, Bill de Blasio, who has made many potentially expensive promises during his campaign.
Prominent officials who were present for Katz’s victory speech included Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who also was re-elected Tuesday; Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills); and the newly re-elected Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills).
“Curtis says you and I are the only two Democrats he’s voted for since McGovern,” Katz said in congratulating Koslowitz.
Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and father of Katz’s two sons, was unable to make it to Forest Hills prior to Katz’s departure for de Blasio headquarters in Brooklyn, due to a commitment to his radio talk show.
But present was current Borough President Helen Marshall, who was unable to run to defend the office she has held for 12 years because of term limits.
“I’m making the office nice for you,” Marshall said with a broad smile.
Both Marshall and her successor spoke with pride in the fact that Katz will be the third consecutive woman to hold the office since Shulman took over after Donald Manes was forced to resign in 1986.
Katz also spoke of raising her two sons, ages 5 and 2, in her old bedroom in the same house where she grew up, adding that they will spur her dedication to the job.
“I want to fight for our children,” she said. “I want our children to be proud to raise their children right here in our borough.”