by Fernando Ferrer
There are no words to adequately describe the pain and
horror that every New Yorker felt on Tuesday,
September 11th. As a city, our thoughts and prayers are with
the friends and families of every individual who
perished or is still missing in that unthinkable act of terror, or died in
effort to rescue fellow New Yorkers.
In what will go down in history as the darkest hour in our five boroughs,
New York City was at its best. The firefighters, police officers,
rescue workers, construction workers, and volunteers
who risked and sacrificed their lives brought
unparalleled honor to New York City. The communal spirit that
lies at the very heart of our city shined brightly:
neighbors treating neighbors like family; strangers
giving comfort to strangers; New Yorkers from every
community and of every faith, offering prayers for those
they may never have known.
Mayor Giuliani and I have had our differences over
issues and policy. But, like every New Yorker, I
am grateful to the Mayor for the extraordinary
leadership, dedication, and compassion he has demonstrated
during this terrible ordeal. And Mayor Giuliani, like many New Yorkers,
must be a part of our ongoing rebuilding effort.
Even as we grieve our terrible losses, we are a
stronger city today than we were before evil sought to weaken us.
While the efforts in lower Manhattan continue, we take solace in the fact
the greatest city in the world displayed its greatness
during a moment of unprecedented crisis.
The challenges that face our city in the months and
years to come are daunting. We will work every day
of the year to revive the physical structure of
our city, re-energize our economy, and restore
confidence in New York City as the preeminent destination
anywhere in the world.
While the budgetary implications are not yet certain,
there is no doubt that reconstruction and recovery will carry a heavy
price -- a price our city
and its next mayor cannot handle alone.
We must reach across the aisle and reach out to those with whom we've
sometimes been at odds. We support the President as he leads our country
in the battle against terrorism. And we rely on a joint commitment of our
and local governments, along with the private sector, to
address this economic crisis now and in the future.
The economic foundation of New York City remains
strong. We will do everything necessary
to bring our City back -- and we will bring it back
stronger than ever before. We are blessed
to live in a magnificent city with unequalled social and cultural
offerings -- and eight million New Yorkers who represent
the very best America has to offer.
But let's be clear and realistic. Our world and our city changed on
The structural and economic recovery of our city is now our urgent priority.
When those two jets struck our twin towers, they not only attacked innocent
New Yorkers and the symbol of our city's economic preeminence; they attacked
But we refuse to lose sight of the pressing needs in our city, those that
were important on September 10th - and are still important today.
We will honor our commitments to our 1.1 million schoolchildren,
too many of whom are trapped in schools that cannot succeed; to working
who want peace of mind that their children are safe after school; to families
need affordable housing and accessible health care; and
to communities and police officers who deserve a
relationship that is as strong and productive as it has
been in this time of need.
Our city is being tested. We must be strong and confident in our commitment
to shared values. When we look to the future of our city, we must
look up and look forward -- keeping our promise to
build a better future for our kids.
If we fail in that mission, the hateful acts of the terrorists
who waged war on us will have won.
If we abandon our commitment to reforming our schools,
we will have failed our children's future.
If we abandon our commitment to safe and secure
after-school activities for our kids, we will have failed
If we fail to make affordable housing, accessible
health care, and strong police-community relations a
reality, we will have failed families living in every
borough and in every neighborhood.
If we fail to put the needs of New Yorkers first, then
we will have surrendered to those who have waged war
on our nation and assaulted our values.
One outgrowth of this tragedy is the fact that our
city has grown closer together. We have a new and deeper
appreciation for the tough and dangerous jobs of our
firefighters, police officers, and emergency workers.
We must rebuild and repair those departments -
particularly the fire department, which suffered devastating losses
as those heroes laid down their lives so
that others might be saved.
By building on the mutual trust and admiration for the
men and women who protect our safety, we will make
that relationship a permanent one. In these dangerous
times, we must give our strong support to those who
enforce our laws while remaining ever vigilant in
protecting the rights of law-abiding people by ensuring that
no one is unfairly treated because of the color of
their skin or the language they speak. Community
policing, a stronger Civilian Complaint Review Board, and an end to racial
enhance the relationship between police and the
communities they serve -- building on our unity in this time of crisis.
No American city has ever been confronted with a tragedy of this
nature and magnitude, or its consequences. We have no
point of reference when it comes to dealing with terror
and destruction at this level. So as we seek out
solutions for our city, we must rely on our personal
experience in public life.
When I left the City Council and became Borough
President of the Bronx over 14 years ago, we faced a
different kind of devastation.
We went to work -- rolling up our sleeves and reaching
deeply into communities as we hammered out a plan for
turning a Borough that was once the poster child of
urban decay into an international model of urban
revival. We knew that we couldn't do it alone; it took the
leadership of the Mayor; the input of business leaders,
labor leaders, civic leaders, and community leaders;
and the hope and trust of every family living in every
neighborhood in our borough.
We refused to allow hopelessness and despair to be our
destiny. We worked together in common cause, and we
accomplished great things.
As a City today, we also confront hopelessness and
despair. But we will not yield to our sorrows and hand
the terrorists that victory. We can turn this moment
of pain into a time of triumph. We will work together
to make this a time of great progress, new hope, and
I want to lead that effort as mayor.
Right now, political campaigns seem small and
inconsequential. But we are on the brink of making a
decision that will have great bearing on our future as a
City -- and the legacy that we leave our children.
The previous election was cancelled, and all votes cast that
day have been thrown out. So even if you voted before, please take a moment
to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday the 25th -- whether it be for me
or one of the other able candidates who seeks to lead our city.
Together, we will send a powerful message to the
terrorists who lurk in the shadows and seek to destroy our
way of life. We will declare that our democracy and
our love of freedom are stronger than their hatred and
evil. We will show them what makes America a beacon
of hope and freedom throughout the world.
As we move forward, we will do so together. We will
meet these challenges head on, and we will build a
stronger city than we have ever imagined.