There wasn’t an empty chair or unoccupied spot of carpet in sight last Thursday evening, as prominent politicians, community leaders and elected officials-to-be braved the rain and packed into Borough Hall to commemorate the ceremonial swearing-in of the 33rd district’s own councilmember elect Stephen Levin, who won a seven-way city council race by nearly 2,000 in September. Though he will not officially take office until January, Levin was joined by an impressive roster of community leaders from across the borough, city and state, to celebrate his victory, and his impending oath of office. On hand to formally offer their congratulations was Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, United Jewish Organizations Executive Director Rabbi David Niederman, Councilmember and Comptroller-elect John Liu, outgoing Councilmember David Yassky, and many more—including Levin’s father, Michael.
“Even though he’s under 30, there’s no one more qualified to serve the 33rd,” Markowitz said. “Stephen has proven that he has the ability and tenacity to win, and even though he’s young, he has already mastered one of the most important parts of our profession—listening. It’s celebration day in Brooklyn, USA!”
Each speaker who took to the podium emphasized Levin’s extensive experience and unflinching dedication to public service and community involvement, and praised the young councilmember-to-be for his work ethic, his belief in service and his political potential.
“Stephen is a freshman politician, but he’s a senior public servant,” Niederman said. “He has a deep-rooted passion for the poor that is rooted in his blood.”
One of the evening’s most distinguished guests, Assemblyman Vito Lopez—for whom Levin has served as chief of staff for several years—shared a few stories about Levin, including one about their first meeting, and gave an affectionate speech on behalf of Levin’s character, both during and outside of the work environment.
“There isn’t one person who has met Steve who doesn’t like him,” Lopez said. “There is something special about him.”
Though the evening was a celebration of Levin and his accomplishments, his campaign manager Debra Feinberg shared in the spotlight, having run a steadfast—and victorious—campaign on Levin’s behalf. In Levin’s remarks, he thanked Feinberg for her hard work, dedicated and organizing expertise; Lopez for his guidance and mentorship; and Niederman for his support and inspiration.
“It is a great and cherished honor for me to stand before you this evening in the company of such wonderful public servants—men and women who have answered a calling to give of themselves to make our society more just and equitable,” Levin said. “Debra Feinberg, tonight’s MC, deserves a lion share of the credit for the success of our campaign… She was tireless during the campaign, and I mean tireless because there were times when I was exhausted and she’d still be going strong. She was tough, hard-working, organized when I wasn’t, and brilliant, but most of all, she inspired everyone around her and continues to do so. We would not have won this election if it were not for Debby’s efforts.”
“And most of all, I would like to thank my mentor, my County Leader, my unpaid campaign strategist, and my friend, Vito Lopez,” Levin continued. “Not only has he taught me everything I know about politics, from how to run an effective ground campaign to how to make government work for the people, but he has treated me like I was his own son….Brooklyn has been lucky to have Vito as a son, New York State has been lucky to have Vito as an Assemblyman, and I’ve been lucky to have Vito as a mentor and a friend.”
Levin will officially take office in January, when he is sworn in by a court justice.