A life long resident of Western Queens, Jimmy Van Bramer was elected to the New York City Council on November 3, 2009. He was overwhelmingly elected to a second 4-year term on November 5, 2013.
On January 22nd, 2014 Council Member Van Bramer was elected Majority Leader of the New York City Council – the second highest ranking member in the 51 member body. As part of his duties as Majority Leader, he was also reappointed by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito 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 plays a key role is working with all members of the City Council, serving as a bridge between colleagues and the Speaker.
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. During his first term as Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Council Member Van Bramer fought hard to restore over $575 million for our City’s libraries and the arts.
In 2013, as an active member of the New York City Council’s budget negotiating team, he helped secure $106 million for capital funding projects that will continue to help our City remain a world-class destination. For a second year in a row Council Member Van Bramer worked with the Council to significantly increase funding for cultural initiatives and increase equity for New York City’s cultural groups and organizations. In an effort to increase access to the arts and culture in every neighborhood across the City, Council Member Van Bramer created the Cultural Immigrant initiative. In two years, Council Member Van Bramer has helped nearly double the initiative’s funding to $3.2 million enhancing new funding streams to cultural immigrant organizations and groups that are often overlooked in the funding process of our City.
In the beginning of his second term, with the support of his colleagues, Council Member Van Bramer ushered legislation though the City Council strengthening the protection of New Yorkers on our City’s streets safer, developing New York City’s first-ever comprehensive Cultural Plan which aims to enhancing access to the arts and culture in all five boroughs as well as increasing the ability of New Yorkers to have a greater role in selecting public art projects in their neighborhoods.
In 2015, Council Member Van Bramer led a five-borough advocacy campaign which helped secured 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.
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 2015, Council Member Van Bramer’s office helped over 20,000 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 has also allocated over $20 million toward enhancing parks throughout the 26th District. With this funding he has helped build new dog runs, renovated existing playgrounds and increase the amount of green space and parkland throughout Western Queens.
Council Member Van Bramer recently helped secure $33 million to build the Hunters Point Community Library along the East River waterfront in Long Island City – the first neighborhood branch to be built in Queens in over 20 years. Once the project is complete in 2017, 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. In just five years, he has played a pivotal role in securing six new schools – 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 2,600 seats to neighborhood children in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside.
A community organizer, Council Member Van Bramer is the son of two active 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 Public 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.
Majority Leader Van Bramer currently lives in Sunnyside Gardens with Dan Hendrick, his partner of 16 years. 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.