Longtime public servant Julie Menin officially launched her campaign for City Council on Tuesday, touting her vast experience in city government and track record of leading during times of crisis.
Menin, who most recently served as the city’s census director, announced her candidacy over Zoom with a slew of union leaders and former and current elected officials on hand to offer their endorsements. With her announcement, she joins six other candidates vying for the District 5 seat that will be vacated by Council Member Ben Kallos in 2021. The district encompasses the neighborhoods of Yorkville, Lenox Hill, Sutton Place, Midtown East, El Barrio and Roosevelt Island.
“Over the last two decades, I’ve served in many ways, and I faced challenges, but my love for our city kept me going and it will again as the next council member for this district,” Menin said in her announcement speech.
In her speech, Menin painted herself as the candidate best equipped to take on the immense challenges brought upon the city by COVID-19. She pointed to her work in helping rehabilitate Lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11 as the chair of Community Board 1 and as the founder of a nonprofit aimed at aiding small businesses.
“I really never imagined a career in elected office,” she said. “I was frankly just doing my part to rebuild our city after crisis struck. And now amidst another crisis, I’m stepping up to do my part again.”
Menin has also served as commissioner for three city agencies: Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Media and Entertainment and the city’s census office.
As the director for the city’s census efforts, Menin overcame the pandemic to record a 61.8 percent self-response rate of the city’s residents, a result that surpassed other major U.S. cities.
“When I decided we were going to break records with the 2020 census, even during a pandemic, I knew our city and our future depended on it. So we got it done,” she said of the effort. “It’s that can do New York attitude that’s carried me through my career of public service.”
On issues of policy, Menin did not go into detail, but emphasized that she would be focused on education, affordable housing, health care, equity and inclusion, transportation, small business protection and public safety.
“We need to increase economic opportunities for those that have been left behind. And we have to lift up struggling New Yorkers who are facing record levels of unemployment,” said Menin. “The next council is going to have its hands full and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves.”
She promised to release specific policy initiatives in the coming weeks and months.
Menin’s own remarks were brief, allowing the elected and union officials on hand to expand upon on her credentials. This group included the United Federation of Teachers, Greg Floyd of Teamsters Local 237, Jim Claffey of Local One IATSE, Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez, Council Member Diana Ayala, former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, former Public Advocate Mark Green, former Gov. David Paterson and District leaders Skye Ostreicher, Cory Evans, Jake Dilemani and Eric Spencer.
Those who spoke characterized Menin as hard working, efficient, and a proven leader.
“We need government to be innovative, creative, outside-of-the-box thinking, and I think those are all qualities Julie Menin has demonstrated through our leadership of different city agencies,” said Mark-Viverito. “I know you will win, and that we will have your strong passion, your voice and your activism in the City Council.”
In the Democratic Primary next summer, Menin will face off against Chris Sosa, Billy Freeland, Joshua Kravitz, Rebecca Lamorte, Kim Moscaritolo and Tricia Shimamura.