Despite the brutal race for City Council Speaker that left the chairman of the Queens Democratic Party at odds with Mayor de Blasio and the ultimate winner, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), the borough was not left out when key committee chairs and other powerful posts were doled out Wednesday.
In fact, it will be a Queens member, second-term Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who will be the new majority leader, the second most powerful job in the body and second-in-command to Mark-Viverito.
“The opportunity to serve in the second highest position in the Council — with the concomitant strengthened portfolio and added responsibilities — is one I relish and am truly humbled by,” he said in a statement.
Van Bramer, who will also keep his chairmanship of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, will also co-chair the speaker’s Budget Negotiating Team and be a key player in budget talks with Mayor de Blasio’s office.
He was one of seven Council members representing Queens to back Mark-Viverito for speaker over Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), the choice of Queens Democratic Party chairman, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights). The other six were Council members Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn, Queens), whose district is based in Brooklyn, but also includes part of Ridgewood, Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).
Dromm, a former teacher, will chair the Education Committee, while Ferreras is slated to chair the powerful Finance Committee.
“I am deeply honored to have been nominated as chairperson of the Education Committee,” Dromm said in a statement. “Education has always been my passion and is what got me involved in politics in the first place.”
Miller, one of the few freshmen chosen to chair a committee, was given the gavel of the Civil Service & Labor Committee. Miller’s appointment is considered significant because of his previous position as president of Amalgamated Transit Union’s Local 1056.
Richards was named chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee, giving him some oversight over the Department of Environmental Protection, an agency he’s been critical of over flooding concerns in his district.
Ulrich, the only Republican to openly back Mark-Viverito before the Jan. 8 vote that elected her speaker, will chair the Veterans Committee. Reynoso will chair the Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee.
“Veterans have always been near and dear to my heart and I am proud to now be in a position to help those who sacrificed so much for our city and nation,” Ulrich said in a statement. “I consider it an honor to be appointed chair of the Veterans Committee.”
Mark-Viverito’s opponents were not shut out, however.
Gardonick received a slot on the leadership team and the chairmanship of the Economic Development Committee. His Queens backers were also given chairmanships, including Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who will head the State and Federal Legislation Committee, and Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), who will chair Zoning and Franchises. Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) keeps her chairmanship of Fire and Criminal Justice and Peter Koo (D-Flushing) will chair Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses.
What the choices say about the influence of Rep. Crowley and his relationship with Mark-Viverito is not clear. The top chairmanships, however, were all given to Council members who defeated candidates endorsed by Crowley in their initial primary elections.
The only exception is Ferreras, who was unopposed.