Dec. 30, 2021 By Christian Murray
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who has represented the 26th Council District since 2010, ends his time in office Friday.
We had an extensive discussion with Van Bramer in a podcast just prior to Christmas.
Van Bramer discusses his achievements, such as the 10,000 school seats that have been built in the district during his 12 years in office; the upgrade of virtually every park in the district; the construction of the Hunters Point Library and the revamp of several library branches; the construction of dog runs; as well as the addition of protected bicycle lanes and other bike infrastructure.
“I feel that I am leaving the district better than I found it [in 2010],” Van Bramer says who represents the Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City neighborhoods until Dec. 31. “Our schools are very good, our parks are improved…our libraries are stronger than ever. Our local non-profits are as strong as ever.”
Van Bramer also discusses his role in bringing protected bike lanes to the district. He said that he played a major role in the redesign of Queens Boulevard, since Phase 1 of the overhaul began in the district. He also discusses the protected bicycle lanes on 43rd and Skillman Avenue and views the change as a success.
He said that he is pleased that the movement for bike lanes and bike infrastructure will continue as the Adams’ administration and Council Member elect Julie Won– who will represent the 26th Council District come Jan. 1—both support such improvements.
Van Bramer said that the bike lane issue did bring out the worst in some people. He said that his husband was threatened as a result of his stance on protected bike lanes, while a staff member was cursed out while out with his family over the issue.
“Most people have moved on [since the implementation of the protected bike lanes] and are happy with our neighborhood,” Van Bramer said, although he noted that a small group of constituents will not let the issue go.
Van Bramer, a lifelong resident of western Queens, said that he will continue to live in the district for the long term. He also said he would not dismiss running again for elected office.
“I’m not ruling it in or ruling it out,” Van Bramer said, who would most likely run for an Assembly seat. He said that factors such as whether Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan decides to step down or not, or how the assembly district lines are redrawn—with redistricting– will play a role in his decision.
Van Bramer said that his campaign for Queens Borough President in 2021 did show that he is popular in western Queens—despite him coming third in the race behind Donovan Richards, who won, and Elizabeth Crowley.
“I won my district, I won handily,” Van Bramer said, indicating that he would be well positioned should he run for an assembly seat. “I feel good about the numbers.”
Van Bramer did not say what he will do for an occupation in 2022. He said that he was not in a position to disclose what his next job will be at this point but “I am optimistic about the future.”
Van Bramer also discusses in the podcast what it is like to be a council member and to represent 170,000 constituents. He said that it is not an easy job and that it is impossible to keep 170,000 people happy all the time.
“I have always listened [to constituents] …but too many people conflate listening with agreeing.”
He said that there has also been a breakdown in civility, and that he stopped paying attention to people who attack him on social media or on online comment boards. He said that he was thankful for the mute feature on twitter.
Van Bramer gave thanks to the many residents for supporting him over the years as well as his staff.
“I am grateful for my entire 12 years in office,” he said. “I know that I did what I thought was right. I believe in the things that I’ve done very strongly, and we leave the neighborhood strong.”