A lifelong resident of Queens, Jimmy Van Bramer was first elected to the New York City Council on November 3, 2009. First reelected in 2013, he was overwhelmingly elected to a third 4-year term on November 7, 2017.
Now serving as Deputy Leader of the City Council, Council Member Van Bramer was reappointed by Speaker Corey Johnson to the Budget Negotiating Team (BNT) which plays an integral role in formulating the City’s budget to fund critical programs, projects and organizations citywide. Council Member Van Bramer was also reappointed to chair the Council’s Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations Committee. As Chair of the committee, he has oversight over 200 libraries and thousands of cultural organizations, institutions and programs throughout New York City. Council Member Van Bramer has led this committee his entire tenure in City Council. During this time he has fought hard to secure over $1 billion for our City’s libraries and the arts.
Council Member Van Bramer served as the Majority Leader of City Council during his second term in office beginning in January of 2014 and served in the role until the end of the 2017 Council Session.
Council Member Van Bramer is committed to standing up for Queens Values and is leading the resistance in Queens to President Trump’s harmful policies and actions that are in direct contrast with these values. Just weeks after the 2016 presidential election, Council Member Van Bramer led thousands of people over the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower in Manhattan to unite the voices of Queens residents and make it clear to the President Elect that he did not represent their Queens Values. In April of 2017, after the President’s budget eliminated funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Council Member Van Bramer organized and led a Rally to Save the Arts. Hundreds of people, including Broadway stars and David Byrne of the Talking Heads, joined him on the steps of City Hall to demand that the Federal Government continue to fund these vital institutions.
In 2015, Council Member Van Bramer led a five-borough advocacy campaign which helped secure nearly $700 million in expense and capital funding to the City’s three library systems – Queens Library, Brooklyn Public Library and the New York Public Library. This significant City investment helped restore six-day library service citywide to millions of New Yorkers, created hundreds of jobs and set the course to successfully address the capital needs of each neighborhood branch. Council Member Van Bramer led the charge which resulted in the historic baselining of six-day library service.
In 2015, Council Member Van Bramer ushered legislation though the City Council to develop New York City’s first-ever comprehensive Cultural Plan which aims to enhance access to arts and culture in all five boroughs as well as increase the ability of New Yorkers to have a greater role in selecting public art projects in their neighborhoods. In 2017, the cultural plan, CreateNYC, was released and programs from its recommendations are being rolled out and funded.
Council Member Van Bramer has secured hundreds of millions of dollars for parks and public housing during his time in the Council. These projects include the new Hunters Point South Park, the rebuilding of the Queensbridge Park seawall and new roofs on every building in Queensbridge Houses.
As a Council Member, he has dedicated himself to addressing the issues that the people in the 26th Council District care about. From 2009 to 2017, Council Member Van Bramer’s office helped over 27,000 constituents with a wide variety of issues, including: illegal drag racing, graffiti on private properties, cleanliness of residential streets, necessary traffic safety improvements, immigration/deportation cases, social services and general quality of life complaints.
Council Member Van Bramer helped secure more than $40 million to build the Hunters Point Community Library along the East River waterfront in Long Island City – the first new neighborhood branch to be built in Queens in over 20 years. Once the project is complete, the state-of-the-art branch will feature a reading garden, rooftop terrace, reading rooms for all ages, a gallery, performance space, a children’s area and sweeping views of New York City’s skyline.
During his time in office, Council Member Van Bramer has aggressively tackled overcrowding at neighborhood schools. While in office, he has played a pivotal role in bringing 14 new schools to the district – including PS 361 which opened in September 2015 and is the first new elementary school to open in Woodside in over 60 years. The addition of these new schools will help provide over 5,000 seats and represent an investment of over $1 billion for neighborhood children in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, and Woodside.
A community organizer, Council Member Van Bramer is the son of two retired union members. While growing up he sometimes followed his stepfather, a public-school custodian, to work. As he watched his stepfather polish classroom floors and scrub desks so that children and teachers could have a clean learning space, Council Member Van Bramer learned the importance of hard work, and the powerful impact that seemingly small efforts can have on the lives of working people. Council Member Van Bramer has carried those lessons throughout his life.
Council Member Van Bramer’s career has been devoted to making our community stronger and making life better for Queens families like the one he grew up in. From 1999-2009, he served as the Chief External Affairs Officer of the Queens Library. As the library’s link between community members and government, Council Member Van Bramer worked to protect and expand important library services, such as after-school programs and English language classes. He also led members of the Queens community on annual trips to Albany and Washington, D.C. to help them make their voices heard by government officials. In addition, Council Member Van Bramer served as a member of Community Board 2 and its Land Use Committee from 2006-2009.
Before joining the leadership of the Queens Borough Public Library, Council Member Van Bramer fought to protect the rights of regular people in the democratic process by working on the Clean Money, Clean Elections campaign. As the organization’s Deputy Field Director, Jimmy brought together Queens community leaders and working people from every walk of life to win important changes in election laws. Council Member Van Bramer has also worked as a reporter for Lesbian and Gay New York (LGNY), now Gay City News, a community newspaper, where he brought attention to the AIDS epidemic and bias/hate crimes.
The ideals that Council Member Van Bramer has worked for over his entire career — respect for working people, equality for all, and the importance of improving quality of life in our community — were instilled in him by his family and strong Catholic upbringing here in Queens. His father, William Van Bramer, was a lifelong member of Printers’ and Pressman’s Union Local 2. Elizabeth Van Bramer, Council Member Van Bramer’s mother, helped support the family by taking a variety of jobs in their neighborhood, and she was a member of Local 1893 of the International Brotherhood of Painters.
Council Member Van Bramer is proud to have been educated in Queens’ public schools. He graduated from P.S. 70, J.H.S. 10, and William Cullen Bryant High School. He then worked his way through St. John’s University. Since 2004 he has represented his neighborhood and the 37th Assembly District on the New York State Democratic Committee. Additionally, he is a past President of the West Queens Independent Democratic Club and a member of the Board of Directors of the Ridgewood Democratic Club.
Council Member Van Bramer currently lives in Sunnyside Gardens with his husband Dan Hendrick. The two were married on July 28th, 2012 with Council Member Van Bramer becoming the first openly-gay elected official to get married in the borough of Queens.