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Weprin joins dad, brother in tradition of boro politics

David Weprin (D-Hollis) finally joined the family business when he was sworn in as a member of the New York City Council by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

In a packed house at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center on Union Turnpike last Thursday, Weprin officially replaced longtime City Councilman Sheldon Leffler who could not seek re-election due to term limits. Weprin follows his father, former state Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, and his brother, state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside), into elected office.

“I think David Weprin is very well qualified to be entering the Council at this time,” said Tom Manton, head of the Queens Democratic Party, at Weprin’s inauguration ceremony.

“I remember when Saul was really in the last period of his life and I went to visit him in the hospital,” Manton said. “And he said take care of my boys. We did good, Saul.”

He joked that Weprin, who was educated at SUNY Albany, should not have gone to class. Instead he should have sat around the kitchen table with his father and mother where he could have learned everything he needed to know about politics.

The district, which Leffler had represented since 1978, stretches from Queens Village to Bellerose and from Glen Oaks to Hollis. It also includes Floral Park, New Hyde Park and parts of Bayside, Little Neck and Douglaston.

Weprin, 44, a lawyer, has been involved in politics for many years and worked as the deputy supervisor of banking under former Gov. Mario Cuomo during his first term.

“Everybody in the family is a politician but you,” U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), the master of ceremonies, ribbed Weprin. “The only reason it is so crowded here is that they couldn’t believe it.”

He said Weprin enters office during an extraordinary time.

“It brings with it so many new challenges for you as a member of the City Council and so many of your colleagues who are here joining you today,” he said. “I know you learned a lot from your dad — we all did. You might have even learned a little bit from your little brother. You have made us all very proud.”

Mark Weprin, who started his congratulatory remarks in Spanish, welcomed his older brother to government and announced that David was the first Jewish-Latino ever elected to the City Council. He said their mother was born in Havana, Cuba, and immigrated to the United States when she was 8 years old.

“Growing up in my family, you learned a lot about politics and a lot about government,” he said. “More importantly, you were taught the honor and importance of public service. My father taught us to put people ahead of politics and veracity ahead of vanity.”

When people ask him why his brother is leaving a high-paying job, Mark Weprin said, his father instilled in his family the need to give back to the community through public service. He said now as a resident in his brother’s constituency he looks forward to watching him make the community a better place to live.

“During my campaign for City Council I got to realize part of my father that I really didn’t know,” David Weprin said. “Countless people would say to me during the campaign, ‘Let me tell you about your father,’ and they would relate personal accounts of how he helped them. That’s what I want to do — follow the example my father set and help the people of our district.”

The event, which drew more than 600 well-wishers, also attracted a large number of the city’s political muscle. In addition to Schumer and Ackerman (D-Bayside), U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, city Comptroller William Thompson, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Borough President Helen Marshall, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and a slew of present and former City Council members joined in the festivities.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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