It may have all begun with a joke, but the puns didn’t stop today when Mayor Bill de Blasio presented Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy Jr. with the Guinness World Record designation for being the world’s tallest politician.
“On behalf of tall people everywhere, I want to say this is a great day for our community,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, at 6 feet and 6 inches, is New York’s tallest mayor ever to serve, but still falls short compared to the 6-foot-10 Councilmember Cornegy.
“Today, we’re bringing honor to somebody who has brought politics to new heights. Even at my size, I look up to Robert Cornegy,” de Blasio added with a grin.
The mayor continued to laud Cornegy for his work and commitment in public service that allowed him to beat out a crowded field of candidates for the 36th City Council District seat in 2013. Since then, Cornegy has represented Bedford Stuyvesant and North Crown Heights and has fought for affordable housing, equal opportunities for minority-and-women-owned businesses and sponsored a bill that established lactation rooms all over the city.
Getting the certification as “the world’s tallest politician (male)” wasn’t an easy feat, Cornegy explained.
“They don’t just take your word for it,” he said.
Guinness requires the record-holder to submit official height verification. Cornegy went to his former basketball coach at St. John’s University, but Guinness did not accept the measurements. He then consulted two doctors at Bed-Stuy’s Interfaith Hospital.
Cornegy had to undergo three measurements, at three different times in various positions — all in one day. After 18 hours, they submitted the final measurement to Guinness. The overall process, the councilmember said, took two years. At one point, he was worried that he would lose valuable inches to osteoporosis, if he waited any longer, he laughed.
In January, Guinness officially recognized Cornegy as the world’s tallest politician, taking the title from 6-foot-6 Archie Hamilton, a former member of the British Parliament.
Despite all good-natured jokes, Cornegy also took the moment for a more serious message, emphasizing that leaders come in all sizes and shapes.
“Today I get to share the resounding message to all the young people in the world, who come in all different packages, that they can have an impact, and that they don’t have to be relegated to a particular segment in society based on how they look,” Cornegy said. “I am thankful to use my physical attributes, what God gave me, to lead and make a difference in this city.”
De Blasio supported Cornegy’s heartfelt, inspirational message with another well-put pun: “Aim high!”
And according to the NY Times, for Cornegy that may mean a run for Brooklyn Borough President in 2021.