Van Bramer relaunches campaign for borough president
by Benjamin Fang
Jan 27, 2021 | 5110 views | 0 0 comments | 361 361 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jimmy Van Bramer will face off against Borough President Donovan Richards (left) in the primary.
Jimmy Van Bramer will face off against Borough President Donovan Richards (left) in the primary.
The race for Queens borough president is already heating up again.

Almost one year after Jimmy Van Bramer dropped out of the race to care for his elderly mother, the western Queens councilman announced another bid to lead the borough.

“We have a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to reimagine a city where working New Yorkers get ahead,” he said. “Families across Queens are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, now more than ever, we need leadership willing to challenge the status quo.”

Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Astoria in the City Council, is in his third and final term.

He was among several candidates campaigning to be the next borough president last year in a special election to replace Melinda Katz, who was elected Queens district attorney, but bowed out of the race in January due to family circumstances.

In the Democratic primary, Donovan Richards topped former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley by more than 12,000 votes to capture the nomination. He eventually dominated the general election in November and is currently at the helm at Borough Hall.

But last year’s elections only determined who completed the rest of Katz’s term. This June, Richards will compete in another primary and general election for a full four-year term.

Van Bramer enters the race with more than $384,000 in his campaign coffers, according to the latest filings with the Campaign Finance Board. Richards, by comparison, only has $114,000 left.

Other candidates who have filed to run so far include Danniel Maio, a mapmaker who has run for several other seats in the past, Diana Sanchez, a former political staffer who lost to State Senator Jessica Ramos last year, and Stan Morse, a community organizer with the Justice For All Coalition.

According to several reports, Crowley has also expressed interest in running again. Though she placed second in the Democratic Primary last year, the former councilwoman, who represented Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood, led the pack in fundraising and received key endorsements from several labor unions.

In his relaunch announcement, Van Bramer said he will put small businesses ahead of corporations, prioritize affordable housing, reimagine public safety and put resources into a “new economy.”

He touted his opposition to both the city’s plan to close Rikers Island and the proposed Amazon campus in Long Island City.

He also committed to reducing the NYPD budget by $1 billion and redirecting the funding to incarceration alternatives, placing a moratorium on luxury development, building a network of protected bike lanes in Queens, building more public hospitals, and launching a new land use review process.

His candidacy was endorsed by State Senator Jessica Ramos, Assemblyman Ron Kim, and former gubernatorial candidates Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon.

“We need a leader who will put Queens first, standing up for small businesses, workers and tenants, not the status quo,” Ramos said. “Someone willing to fight for the future we deserve, rather than cozying up to power.”

“Queens doesn’t need more party politicians beholden to special interests looking to squeeze out working families,” added Teachout. “From defeating Amazon to defying the party bosses, Jimmy is the true progressive choice for Queens borough president and the leader we need now.”

When asked about Van Bramer’s candidacy at a separate event, Richards said he is focused on making sure the COVID vaccine is administered, modernizing the community board application process, and rolling out a small business grants program.

“I’m from southeast Queens, we’ve never been scared of anything,” he said. “We win many fights, and we have. We just came out of a race that was competitive as well.

“The people of Queens spoke loud and clear then,” Richards added, “and they’ll speak loud and clear again in June.”

Jacob Henry contributed reporting to this article.
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