Councilman Van Bramer to launch campaign for Queens borough president in May

Photos: Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech/QNS

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will launch his campaign for Queens borough president with a May 5 kick-off party and fundraiser at the Sunnyside Gardens home he shares with husband Dan Hendrick.

Van Bramer, who is out of town and made the announcement to his constituents via social media Wednesday morning, said, “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.”

Van Bramer feels he is the best person to replace current Queens Borough President Melinda Katz when both are term limited out of office in 2021.

“I’ve got as Queens a resume as you will find anywhere,” Van Bramer said in an interview last winter. I’ve never lived anywhere else and I want to continue to serve the borough I’ve always called home.”

Van Bramer was born at old St. John’s Hospital on Queens Boulevard, raised in Astoria and attended P.S. 70 and William Cullen Bryant High School. After graduating from St. John’s University, Van Bramer became a community organizer and went to work as a reporter for Lesbian and Gay New York, which is now Gay City News, where he brought attention to the AIDS epidemic, bias and hate crimes.

Van Bramer went on to serve as chief external affairs officer of Queens Library for a decade and also served as president of Queens Council on the Arts. He said those experiences served him well when he was elected to the City Council in 2009 representing Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Astoria. He was appointed chairman of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee in 2010, a position Van Bramer is still holding now in his third term.

“I’m just someone who has a passion for the diversity and people of every neighborhood in Queens,” he said. “The feedback I have gotten has been enthusiastic and supportive, because we’ve done an awful lot of good in my district and people across the borough have noticed.”

Van Bramer drew a lot of attention when he led thousands in a Queens Values march across the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower. He further expanded his visibility as one of the leaders of the opposition to Amazon’s planned HQ2 campus in Long Island City. Van Bramer grilled Amazon executives during two City Council hearings, and when the e-commerce giants announced it was scuttling their plans of Feb. 14 it blamed a “lack of collaborative relationships with state and local officials.”

Van Bramer was unapologetic, saying, “When our community fights together, anything is possible,” angering many Long Island City business owners who had been very supportive of him, but progressives across the borough were fired up by his defiance.

“I am proud we fought for our values, which is a fight for working families, immigrants and organized labor,” Van Bramer said. “Defeating an anti-union corporation that mistreats workers and assists ICE in terrorizing immigrant communities is a victory,” he said. “Defeating an unprecedented act of corporate welfare is a triumph that should change the way we do economic development in our city and state forever.”

In his Wednesday pitch to his constituents, Van Bramer said his type of leadership is needed at Borough Hall.

“With your help, we can make progressive change on a much larger scale. Queens needs an activist borough president, someone with a proven track record of taking on the establishment and winning,” Van Bramer wrote. “Someone unafraid to take bold positions who is not beholden to party bosses. Together, we can move the borough and our communities forward.”

The kick-off party in Sunnyside Gardens is Sunday, May 5, from 1 to 3 p.m. For information or to RSVP, contact Michael Senay at 646-559-9946 or [email protected]

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