April 24, 2019 By Christian Murray
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer announced today that he is running for Queens borough president.
The announcement came as little surprise as he formed a campaign committee in February geared for such a run and has made his intentions known for some time that he wants the job.
Van Bramer, who represents the 26th District, made the announcement via social media and said that he will officially launch his campaign on May 5.
“For the past 10 years, I’ve proudly served Western Queens in the City Council. I hope I’ve shown you that I am a tireless advocate, a progressive leader for change who fights for our communities and gets results,” he wrote. “With your help, we can make progressive change on a much larger scale.”
Van Bramer is in his final term as a council member and will be forced to vacate his office at the end of 2021. He has said that he is not interested in pursuing a position in Albany but one where he can focus on Queens.
Melinda Katz, the current borough president, will be term limited in 2021. However, she is currently running to be the next Queens District Attorney and if she wins the race she would vacate her seat in 2020.
A special election for borough president would be held early next year to fill her spot. Both Democrats and Republicans could run in that race–much like the recent public advocate race.
Katz is viewed by many as the favorite to win the District Attorney race.
Van Bramer has been a controversial figure in the past year. He was an outspoken critic of Amazon’s plan to establish its second headquarter in Long Island City. He panned the company over its union policies and questioned why the company needed hefty tax incentives.
He was caught in the middle of a heated debate in Sunnyside and Woodside when he advocated for protected bicycle lanes on Skillman Avenue and 43rd Avenue.
But Van Bramer touts his lifelong ties to Queens and his progressive values.
“I have deep roots in Queens,” Van Bramer said in February at the time he formed his campaign committee. “I was born and raised in Queens. I went to public schools in Astoria and then to St. John’s for college,” he said.
Van Bramer also noted that he worked for the Queens Library for 11 years and was the president of the Queens Council on the Arts from 2004-2006. He was also a member of Community Board 2.
“I am also part of the changing face of Queens and I believe that the borough has become more progressive—particularly the Democrats,” he said.
The borough president does have significant local influence. For instance, the borough president is in charge of appointing the members of each community board. Board members get to weigh in on issues such as the granting of liquor licenses to street redesigns.
Additionally, the borough president gets to play an advisory role when it comes to rezonings. They get to make a non-binding recommendations, which do carry weight. The borough president also has a pool of funds that can be allocated toward parks and other projects.
Van Bramer has been preparing to run for the borough president job for some time and has about $340,000 on hand.
He has a strong history of raising large sums. Van Bramer generated more than $550,000 for his city council race in 2017, one of the highest among council members.
He will be holding a campaign kickoff party at his Sunnyside Gardens home on May 5.