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Queens Chronicle

Van Bramer on leading the Democratic Caucus

Councilman talks about what the job of majority leader will entail

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Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 10:30 am

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) was appointed to the second-highest position in the 51-member City Council last week, and his new role as majority leader means he will spending a lot of quality time with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), the 46 other Democrats in the body and Mayor de Blasio’s staff — and giving Queens a powerful representative in City Hall.

“Needless to say I am excited and honored to serve in the second-highest position in the Council,” Van Bramer said. “To have that person come from Queens is a very big victory for the borough.”

As majority leader, the second-term Democrat will officially serve as leader of the Council’s 48-member Democratic Caucus and as a liaison between it and the speaker.

“My job is to make sure their voices are heard,” Van Bramer explained.

Despite a divisive race for speaker, Van Bramer doesn’t believe the Democratic Caucus is fractured. Although the race for speaker did divide the party for a time, Mark-Viverito received a unanimous vote of all 51 members when she was elected speaker on Jan. 8.

“We went through an intense process in the speaker’s race,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we came together. I think there’s a lot of consensus on Mayor de Blasio’s progressive agenda. I think there’s a great deal that unites us.”

Van Bramer noted that there was wide agreement in the Democratic caucus on issues such as expanded paid sick leave and universal prekindergarten, both of which de Blasio and Mark-Viverito have announced they would pursue in the near future.

The Queens councilman will also be responsible for advising Mark-Viverito and helping in crafting legislation and the Council budget.

Van Bramer is the first new majority leader in over a decade. Former Councilman Joel Rivera of the Bronx served as majority leader from 2002 through 2013.

Separate from his role as majority leader, Van Bramer was also appointed by Mark-Viverito to co-chair a budget negotiation team, which will put him in a powerful position when it comes to crafting a spending plan with de Blasio.

“Under a new, smaller, budget negotiating team, we will help shape the priorities of the Council when it comes to funding,” he explained. “I look forward to playing a role with respect to determining priorities for the Council when it comes to the budget and working with the Mayor’s Office.”

Van Bramer also remains chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee, which he has headed for the past four years.

Welcome to the discussion.