QUEENS, NY (01/26/2021) (readMedia)-- Kal Penn, actor and former Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement under President Barack Obama, is endorsing Jimmy Van Bramer for Queens Borough President. Penn joins a growing coalition of progressives backing Van Bramer, including Senator Jessica Ramos, Assembly Member Ron Kim, Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon. Van Bramer launched his campaign last week - watch the video here.
"Jimmy's care for his constituents has stood out in my mind since meeting him. He has a strong, progressive record of protecting working families and community businesses, and has been impressively inclusive and forward-thinking. It is exciting to see how he encourages young leaders from all walks of Queens life, and includes them in a mission to make our beautiful City of New York even stronger. Given the health and economic hardships facing our fellow New Yorkers, I'm especially excited to support the candidacy of someone as experienced, tough, and caring as Jimmy," said Kal Penn.
Penn starred in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and House. Penn also starred Sunnyside, a sitcom about a Queens local lawmaker helping immigrants apply for citizenship. He was an advocate for Obama's 2008 campaign before joining his administration. He is also an immigrant rights advocate and has supported the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East as well as organizations helping Syrian refugees.
"Kal Penn continues to do amazing work for immigrant and refugee communities across the country, and around the world. He's used his platform to get young people and marginalized communities involved in the political process. I'm so proud to have his support again as we reimagine a Queens where working families, small businesses and tenants get ahead," said Jimmy Van Bramer.
Van Bramer is the only candidate for Queens Borough President to reject real estate donations, oppose the city's mega-jails plan to replace Rikers and lead the fight against Amazon's plan for a taxpayer subsidized HQ2. Van Bramer is committed to a reduction of at least $1 billion in the NYPD and reallocating those funds to incarceration alternatives; placing a moratorium on luxury development and creating more affordable housing; building a network of protected bike lanes all across Queens; creating more public hospitals; and building a new, community-driven land use process.
Background on Van Bramer
Jimmy Van Bramer, born and raised in Astoria, Queens, is the Deputy Leader of the New York City Council. He was first elected to the New York City Council on November 3, 2009, and re-elected in both 2013 and 2017. Van Bramer is a founding member of the progressive caucus of the New York City Council.
He works tirelessly to fight for working people, equality for all, and the importance of improving quality of life in our community- values instilled by his parents. His father, William Van Bramer, was a lifelong member of Printers' and Pressman's Union Local 2, and his mother Elizabeth Van Bramer helped support the family - even through bouts of homelessness and food insecurity - by working as a meat wrapper and cashier at local supermarkets, and was a member of Local 1893 of the International Brotherhood of Painters.
His first foray into organizing was when he was a St. John's University student in 1993, leading a queer group of students who fought to be officially recognized by the largest catholic university in the country. Later, he organized for Ed Sedarbaum's 1998 State Senate race, gravitating towards the nascent movement to elect queer people in Queens and starting his personal decades long fight with the Queens County Democratic Party machine.
In 1998, he was an organizer with Citizen Action of New York to create what-is-now today's current New York City campaign finance system with matching funds. At the same time, he led civil disobedience actions with Irish LGBTQ folks trying to march in the city's St. Patrick's Day parades, which previously banned openly queer groups from marching.
In 2001, he stepped forward as the insurgent candidate against the Queens machine for City Council, coming in second. In the ensuing years, he worked as an organizer for the Queens Public Library and joined the board of the Queens Council on the Arts. In 2009, Van Bramer won his City Council election against Queens County machine pick Deirdre Feerick. He similarly bucked the machine to back Melissa Mark-Viverito for Speaker.
He was a leader in the opposition to $3 billion of tax subsidies for Amazon HQ2 and was the first Queens elected official to endorse Tiffany Cabán for Queens District Attorney.
He currently lives in Sunnyside Gardens with his husband Dan Hendrick. Jimmy married Dan on July 28, 2012, becoming the first openly-gay elected official to get married in the borough of Queens.