City Council candidate Julie Menin kicked off her general election campaign efforts with a rally that featured a long list of elected officials speaking to the Democratic nominee’s credentials Sunday at Carl Shurz Park on the Upper East Side.
Menin, who hopes to succeed the term-limited Council Member Ben Kallos to become District 5’s next representative, spoke of continuing the momentum she created with her win in June’s Democratic primary. The former city commissioner beat out six other candidates in what had been a competitive race – with Menin edging out her nearest competitor by 2,591 votes in the final round of the ranked-choice voting tabulation – to become the party’s nominee.
“We’re here today because I do have a general election, and I’m not taking it for granted,” said Menin, who will face Republican Mark Foley in November. “While we have very strong voter registration numbers here in this district, that’s not enough; we need to make sure that everyone comes out to vote.”
Menin brought out the cavalry Sunday as she was flanked by elected officials from the local, state and federal level, including Reps. Adriano Espaillat and Carolyn Maloney, state Assembly Members Dan Quart and Rebecca Seawright, state Sen. Jose Serrano, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, City Council Member Mark Levine as well as Council members representing Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens. It was a strong show of support for Menin, who also pointed out the representatives from labor unions, community organizations, political clubs and even two former primary opponents in Tricia Shimamura and Kim Moscaritolo, who were in attendance Sunday.
Ready on Day One
Those who gave remarks at the rally all spoke to Menin’s vast government experience and their belief she will be ready to do the job on day one in office. As a three-time former city commissioner, including stints with the departments of Consumer Affairs and Media and Entertainment, as well as former mayor Mike Bloomberg’s redistricting commissioner. Most recently, she served as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s census director, a job greatly complicated by COVID-19.
“My experience with Julie over many years is that whatever she has touched has worked out beautifully. In a sense, she’s got the Midas touch, it turns to gold,” DiNapoli said of Menin’s past work. “You really have made an incredible difference as an un-elected official, and I know what you can do as an elected official is going to be even more impressive.”
Espaillat, whose district covers much of northern Manhattan, spoke at length on Menin’s work ethic and drive to get things done.
“Julie is a dynamic leader with a lot of energy. I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as Julie Menin,” said Espaillat. “Every job that she’s how she’s done it with energy, with passion, with commitment. I’m sure that she will take all those qualities to the city council and represent this district with distinction.”
Levine, who will be on the ballot for Manhattan borough president in November, spoke directly about Menin’s success as census director.
“At the peak of the COVID crisis last spring, New York City had a higher participation rate on the census than any other big city in America,” said Levine, who represents the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights and Washington Heights. “As a result, our public hospitals, like Metropolitan, will get their fair share. All sorts of social services and our political representation will now reflect an increase of hundreds of thousands of residents in the city. At a time when the naysayers were saying New York City was dead. And we proved them wrong in part because of Julie’s leadership on the census.”
Both Maloney and Quart, however, reiterated the fact that Menin’s victory on the Upper East Side is not guaranteed.
“It wasn’t that long ago, that [the Upper East Side] was all Republican. And together, we took out Bill Green, remember that?” Maloney said, referring to the Republican Congressman she defeated in 1993. “The only thing constant we’ve got in government or even in politics – especially politics – is that you can’t really predict; you really have to just outwork everybody, be ready and make it happen.”
Quart, too, tried to galvanize supporters to do whatever possible to urge voters to turn out for Menin.
“I’m here to deliver the sobering message, as someone who’s ran on the Upper East Side, that we can’t take this victory for granted,” said Quart. “We can’t assume a high voter turnout or a Democratic sweep in November. That is the truth of running on the East Side of Manhattan with many independents and Republicans ... You have to work, you have to knock on those doors, because she has to win in November – and then win two years from now. So when you get that call [from her campaign], work hard for her. She’s worth it.”
“At a time when the naysayers were saying New York City was dead ...we proved them wrong in part because of Julie’s leadership on the census.” City Council Member Mark Levine