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Van Bramer Eyeing Another Run for Queens Borough President

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (Official New York City Council Photo by William Alatriste)

Dec. 7, 2020 By Allie Griffin and Christian Murray

Long Island City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer is contemplating a run for Queens Borough President once again, campaign filings show.

Van Bramer has recently filed to run for borough president with the Campaign Finance Board and told Politico last month that he is “seriously considering” another go.

The council member would enter the 2021 race with significant resources — nearly $490,000 in campaign coffers, based on $8-to-$1 matching funds.

“I haven’t made a decision yet, but I’ve loved serving the people of Queens as a Council Member,” Van Bramer told the Queens Post. He added that he remains committed to helping his constituents and the city recover from the pandemic.

Should he run, Van Bramer would challenge Donovan Richards who assumed office last week after winning the June primary and November general election.

Richards’ term ends next year, since the November election determined who was to complete the remainder of former Borough President Melinda Katz’s term. Katz vacated the seat early to takeover as Queens District Attorney.

Van Bramer and Richards ran against one another in the crowded Democratic primary for the borough president job earlier this year. However, Van Bramer withdrew from the race in January 2020, citing family reasons.

During the campaign, Van Bramer positioned himself as the progressive candidate and attempted to paint Richards as part of the “Queens Machine,” since Richards was backed by the Queens County Democratic Party.

The pair often spared on the topic of real estate, with the scuttled Amazon deal being the subject of fierce debate. Van Bramer was against the tech giant coming to his district, while Richards had supported it for the 25,000 jobs it was expected to bring.

They have also differed on other developments. Richards supported the Industry Park rezoning in Brooklyn citing job creation, while Van Bramer opposed it saying that it would lead to the displacement of existing residents. The developer ended up withdrawing the plan.

The pair also clashed in the race over campaign contributions from real estate developers. Van Bramer made a decision in 2018 to stop accepting them, while Richards has continued to take them.

Van Bramer argued that candidates shouldn’t accept money from real estate companies since it could influence their land-use decisions. The borough president gets to weigh in on rezoning applications, which are typically filed by large developers.

Richards’ stance on real estate development has caught the attention of progressive leaders, with some talking about the need to challenge him, sources say.

Van Bramer does not have to decide whether or not to run until the end of February — when petitioning begins. Given the size of his campaign war chest, he doesn’t need to fundraise in the interim.

While the council member said he hasn’t made up his mind whether he will run, he did say he wants to help New York recover and in an equitable way.

“We have to do so much better for small businesses, for the thousands of unemployed New Yorkers struggling to make rent, immigrant communities devastated by COVID-19, and Black and Brown New Yorkers who deserve dignity and respect from police,” he said. “We need someone who’s going to fight for them all, not cozy up to power.”

Meanwhile, Richards’ spokesperson Tom Musich indicated that the borough president is concentrating on the task at hand.

“Queens Borough President Donovan Richards is focused on finding solutions to food insecurity, keeping small businesses open, and securing PPE for healthcare workers and first responders,” Musich said.

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