By Rich Bockmann
City Council members Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) came out as big winners in the Council sweepstakes when Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) named the two Progressive Caucus members to a pair of top positions Wednesday.
In addition to retaining his chairmanship of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Van Bramer was appointed majority leader of the Council, the legislative body’s No. 2 position, and co-chairman of the budget negotiating team.
“It has always been my goal to play a meaningful leadership role in this new, progressive council,” he said. “I look forward to working with all my colleagues to ensure the adoption of budgets that reflect our progressive agenda.”
One of the two most coveted committee chairmanships went to Ferreras, who was named to head the powerful Finance Committee, which puts her in a prominent seat when it comes to negotiating the city’s budget.
Ferreras said she was honored to be the first person of color to hold the position.
“At a time when women hold less than 20 percent of the top leadership positions in the national finance industry, this momentous appointment marks an exciting milestone not only for myself and my colleagues in government, but for all New Yorkers, all people of color and all young girls who never before thought that they can grow up and shatter glass ceilings,” she said.
Appointing leadership roles and committee chairmanships was the most watched moves Mark-Viverito has made since she was elected speaker earlier this year. That contest split the Council between the 30 lawmakers who initially pledged their support to the East Harlem Council woman and the 20 who only fell in line after her opponent, Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), ceded the race.
Both Van Bramer and Ferreras were strong Mark-Viverito supporters, and the speaker’s other backers received plum positions.
Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), a former transit union leader, was named chairman of the Civil Service and Labor Committee, while Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) was appointed chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee.
Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson heights) will be in charge of the Education Committee and Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) will head the Veterans Committee.
Mark-Viverito supporter Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) was appointed to the powerful Land Use Committee, a position previously held by former Queens Council members Leroy Comrie and Melinda Katz.
Some Queens lawmakers who did not originally support the speaker were appointed to head committees, but others found themselves in lesser roles.
Councilwoman Liz Crowley (D-Middle Village) will head the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) will be in charge of the Committee on State and Federal Legislation.
Councilmen Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) were named to head subcommittees under Land Use, and Councilmen Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) and Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) were each appointed chairmen of different subcommittees.
Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) was one of a few lawmakers who was not named to chair a committee.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.