Legislative record: Crown Heights councilman nets Guinness record as world’s tallest politician

Legislative record: Crown Heights councilman nets Guinness record as world’s tallest politician
Photo by Colin Mixson

He’s taking Kings County politics to new heights!

New York City’s tallest mayor honored the world’s tallest politician at City Hall on Wednesday, where Mayor Bill de Blasio presented Crown Heights Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. with a plaque commemorating his induction into the 2019 Guinness Book of World Records.

“It’s true, I’m the tallest person to ever serve as mayor, but today we’re going to recognize someone even taller,” said de Blasio, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall. “Even at my size, I look up to Robert Cornegy.”

The prestigious world-record keeper officially recognized the Brooklyn legislator as the world’s tallest elected official on Jan. 14, when, following an exhaustive, 12-hour measuring process overseen by doctors at Interfaith Medical Center, the councilman’s height was pegged at a neck-craning 6 feet 10 inches tall.

Cornegy nominated himself — Guinness did not scour the globe for large lawmakers — on the suggestion of Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Joe Gonzalez, when the infamously vexatious constituent took a break from castigating the councilman to suggested that his combined physical and political stature put him in the running for the world record.

“In the middle of berating me for some legislation I hadn’t passed, he reflected on the fact that I must be the tallest elected official in the world,” Cornegy recalled.

The Brooklyn lawmaker had originally sought measurements from his former coach at St. John’s University, where Cornegy — then merely a very tall student athlete — had played for the school’s basketball team during the 1984-85 season, making it all the way to the Final Four.

However, Guinness’ strict accreditation policy found the trainer’s evaluation too amateurish, forcing Cornegy to turn to the local hospital, where an average of three separate measurements taken in various positions — including laying on his back, where the councilman stretched out to an interminable 6 feet 11 inches — yielded the legislator’s true height.

A sharp dresser, Cornegy has to pay a little extra for custom-fit suits and size-17 shoes to fit his colossal frame, and the councilman is forced to slouch when standing on the subway, although he still finds trains more comfortable than cars.

And Cornegy, who makes a habit of standing at a generous two to three feet away from people during conversations, said the worst part of being tall is suffering tall-guy jokes from his colleagues in council.

“We were on the steps of city hall, and [Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo] turned to me and said, ‘I can’t believe they make jeans in your size!” Cornegy recounted. “Had I been overweight and she said that, she’d be on her way to HR.”

And while the world’s tallest politician admits there were times when he would have given up a foot for ounce of normalcy, he said the chance to bring a world record to his home borough left his head above the clouds.

“When I found out there was a possibility to do this, I wanted bring that record back to New York, and in particular back to Brooklyn.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.