BY SAM RAPPAPORT
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) has stopped just short of officially declaring his intention to run for Queens borough president in 2021, when Melinda Katz will relinquish her seat.
In an email sent out to supporters on Feb. 12, Van Bramer announced that he had formed a campaign account for the 2021 election cycle. He capped contributions to the account at $3,850, the maximum amount allowed by the city’s Board of Elections for a campaign for borough president.
When asked whether he intended to run for borough president, Van Bramer said, “I can only confirm that we formed a committee for 2021. I can confirm—as someone born and raised in Queens—that serving as borough president would be a great honor.”
Van Bramer has lived his entire life in western Queens and was first elected to New York’s City Council in 2009. He sees himself as an integral part of the changing landscape of New York’s most diverse borough.
“Queens has changed in many ways since I was a kid living in Astoria in the 1970s,” Van Bramer said. “I’m an openly gay, married council member. Thirty years ago, that wouldn’t have been possible.”
Van Bramer said that he’s proud to have led many of Queens’ anti-Donald Trump rallies over the past year and claimed that while the president is a product of the borough, he does not reflect the values of the vast majority of its residents.
“The insanity that is Donald Trump has nothing to do with Queens,” Van Bramer said of the president, whose Queens upbringing was recently invoked by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to justify his brash rhetoric. “The vast majority of Queens residents embrace diversity.”
Van Bramer pointed to Queens’s growing LGBTQ and immigrant communities as exemplars of the area’s evolving demographics. He also affirmed his support for Queens’ undocumented residents, a population that has remained in a precarious position since Trump took office.
In response to the question as to whether he’d consider running for office in Albany, Van Bramer said, “My mother was born in Maspeth 80 years ago. I believe I understand the borough, and it’s who I am in so many ways.”
The council member confirmed that he will transfer approximately $200,000 from his City Council account to his newly formed 2021 committee.
Melinda Katz, the current borough president, has formed a citywide campaign committee known as Katz 2021.
Although she has not yet confirmed how she plans to use the committee, some suspect Katz might run in the city’s next mayoral election.