Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso delivered his State of the Borough address on Tuesday at the New York City College of Technology in Downtown Brooklyn following his first year in office.
The address highlighted many of the former North Brooklyn councilmember’s historic accomplishments within the last year, including his continued efforts to invest in maternal healthcare and the launch of the borough’s “Planning for Public Health” initiative.
“In 2022, Borough Hall made history and set a new standard for big, bold action on behalf of the people of Brooklyn. In my second year, I’m not going to stop until we outdo our first,” said Reynoso during the Jan. 10 address. “I’m not here to do a thousand things halfway, I’m here to do the five or six or seven things that will make a real difference in people’s lives. Brooklyn needs major changes, and I’m going to do right by my people. This role isn’t just ceremonial, we’re going to prove what we can do and show Brooklyn the difference a Borough President can make.”
The City Tech auditorium was filled with a cheering crowd of people from all over Brooklyn, including Reynoso’s fellow borough presidents and his predecessor, Mayor Eric Adams. The beep invited some colleagues in government to speak ahead of his address, including fellow “Brooklyn boy” U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.
During his address, Reynoso doubled down on past promises to address the borough’s healthcare inequities.
“Right now Brooklyn is facing the worst maternal health crisis in all five boroughs,” Reynoso told the room. “One in every three pregnancy-related deaths in New York City happen here in our borough. It is one of the greatest inequities and greatest injustices that we are bearing witness to. And I told you all, I promised you, that I would change that. I promised you that I would do everything in my power to make Brooklyn the safest place to have a baby in this city by the time my first four years [are] up. And I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”
According to a maternal mortality report commissioned by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Black women in Brooklyn are 9.4 times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts.
In response to the troubling data, Reynoso formed a “Maternal Health Taskforce,” comprised of Black female OBGYNs, mental health professionals, community organizers, a midwife and other experts — all of whom are trained to support and improve pregnancy outcomes for Black and Brown people living in Brooklyn.
In his first year as BP, Reynoso also allocated the entirety of Brooklyn’s Fiscal Year 2023 funding of $45 million to the borough’s three public hospitals to refine maternal health care services in an effort to reduce mortality rates of Black pregnant people in Brooklyn. This fall, he launched a baby box program called “Born in Brooklyn,” which saw 500 boxes filled with supplies for new parents distributed, and the “Healthy Pregnancy” public education campaign.
After emphasizing the strides the borough has made under his helm, Reynoso went on to outline his plans to advance Brooklyn even further in 2023.
In the coming year, Reynoso plans to help kickstart Black-owned businesses in Brownsville, assist Brooklyn nonprofits in securing permanent spaces, increase solarization throughout the borough and support community board reform. And he plans to do it all with his constituents’ guidance.
“Our plan aims to address injustice, guiding future development to prioritize health, wellbeing and a sense of community,” he said. “As we build more affordable housing and accessible housing across the borough, this plan is really about sharing the love. Sharing the responsibility of supporting the growth and responsibility of our borough as a whole and resisting temptation to focus narrowly on ourselves or one single neighborhood. We are not laying out a long-term planning agenda without the voice of the people.”
Collaboration and cooperation will work to Brooklyn’s benefit, Reynoso said, and lay better groundwork for future generations of Brooklynites.
“We’ve set forth to make a real impact with measurable outcomes,” Reynoso said. “We are going to prove what we can do, the difference a Borough President can make and we are going to be bold, creative and revolutionary. We are going to be interdepartmental, interdisciplinary and intergenerational. We’re going to plan for tomorrow and we are going to act now. We are going to take back this borough and show everyone what the people of Brooklyn can do. And we are going to do it all while spreading love, because that’s the Brooklyn way.”
Correction (Jan. 12, 4:45 p.m.): A previous version of this story erroneously stated there was a doula on the borough president’s Maternal Health Taskforce. The taskforce is made up of one OBGYN, one midwife, one city public health NYCDOHMH agent, two heads of Community Health Organizations, one registered nurse, one mental health peer community specialist, and a longtime former City Councilwoman.