A Drink with the Candidates for Manhattan Borough President

Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century (DL21C) made sure that its Manhattan Borough President candidate forum, held on Wednesday, July 17th, felt a bit different than most others on the crowded schedule of campaign events around the city. The forum was held in the Elmo Lounge, a candlelit room under the Elmo restaurant, in Chelsea. The evening began with a half-hour of networking and mingling with the three Manhattan Borough President candidates participating, who sat in booths enjoying a drink and hearing from several of the roughly 60 people in attendance before the forum got underway.

The candidates present were Council Members Robert Jackson (CD7) and Gale Brewer(CD6), and former Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin. The fourth major Manhattan Borough President candidate, Council Member Jessica Lappin, was not at the forum.

Also in attendance was district three city council candidate Yetta Kurland, who was invited to address the crowd and thanked DL21C for hosting such events, especially their recent “speed politicking” night. Kurland mentioned the 11,000 petition signatures she recently filed and her readiness for the next stage of the campaign.

The more formal portion of the night began with candidates’ opening statements. Menin spoke first, telling the crowd that her entrance into public service came when “September 11th upended my life.” Since then, Menin said, she has devoted the last twelve years to community service. Menin touted her record of standing up with New Yorkers on difficult issues, often being willing to take stances on controversial topics, including the building of the Park 51 Mosque and the Occupy Wall Street protests. Menin went on to state her concerns about overcrowding in the borough, calling Manhattan the “densest of all five boroughs.” Menin blamed the City Council, in which all three of her opponents serve, for allowing developers to continue to build in Manhattan without ensuring more school seats and other such measures to manage the influx of new residents.

Next, Councilwoman Gale Brewer spoke, pointing to her record and effectiveness in the council as her major qualifications to become the borough’s next president. “I have introduced more legislation than any other legislator,” she said. Brewer described her commitment to passing the paid sick leave law, calling it “the most progressive legislation ever to pass city council.” Brewer said she would “bring everyone together to find solutions. We have got to find ways to make our neighborhoods inclusive. People want jobs, opportunity, and togetherness.”