Today, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer- a candidate for Queens Borough President, Jen Gutiérrez- a candidate for City Council District 34, and Juan Ardila- a candidate for City Council District 30 took a walking tour of small businesses in Ridgewood. The candidates heard from small business owners about their concerns, and discussed plans for commercial rent control, pandemic relief, and other protections.
Van Bramer is the only candidate for Queens Borough President to reject real estate money, uplift small businesses, and put communities at the center of the land use process. Van Bramer co-sponsors two long-standing small business protection bills- Small Business Jobs Survival Act and Commercial Rent Control in the New York City Council.
"The pandemic has been devastating for small businesses; roughly one-third of the 240,000 small businesses in New York City may never reopen. I've co-sponsored both Commercial Rent Control and the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, because New York doesn't come back without Queens, and that means keeping our communities afloat with mom and pop operations, not big box stores. I'm the only candidate in this race not taking money from big real estate, and I'll fight to keep small businesses and the jobs they create right here in the neighborhood," said Jimmy Van Bramer.
Pre-pandemic in 2019, New York City's retail sector comprised 32,600 businesses that provided 344,600 jobs, paid $16 billion in total wages citywide, and contributed $55 billion in taxable sales to the City's economy. Between March and August 2020, 2,800 out of 83,000 small businesses in New York City permanently closed. For every $100 spent at a small business, $68 goes back into the community. Chain stores only recirculate about 13 percent of their revenue.
Background on Ardila
As a first-generation American and New Yorker, Juan Ardila is running for City Council to improve the quality of life for all residents of District 30 the way his parents and community did for him when he was growing up in Maspeth. Juan's experience includes working for the International Rescue Committee, City Councilman Brad Lander, as a dual-language consultant for the DOE, and currently for a legal service nonprofit to guarantee that all New Yorkers have access to the legal representation they deserve. As the first Latino to run for Council in District 30, Juan wants to bring his district together with inclusive politics that leaves no one behind.
Background on Gutierrez
Jennifer Gutierrez is the daughter of immigrants, a public school kid, and a native New Yorker. As a first-time candidate, Jennifer is centering her campaign around her shared experiences with residents of the 34th district- whom she has served for close to a decade. She is running to expand tenant protections, fully fund our schools and implement a comprehensive COVID response that provides relief to Tenants and small businesses and makes healthcare accessible to all New Yorkers regardless of their immigration status.
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.