Menin Enters Race to Succeed Kallos

Julie Menin and Mayor Bill de Blasio, both wearing mask, speaking to New Yorkers about census.
Julie Menin and Mayor Bill de Blasio go door-knocking to encourage New Yorkers to complete the census in South Richmond Hill, Queens in July, 2020. (Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Since entering the race to succeed Councilmember Ben Kallos (D-Upper East Side, Yorkville, Lenox Hill) as District 5’s representative, Julie Menin (D) has made quite a splash.

An experienced public servant, Menin has served as commissioner of several city agencies. Starting with the Consumer Affairs Department, she managed to lead the charge around the paid sick leave law. As Commissioner of Media and Entertainment, Menin established numerous initiatives to facilitate gender equity and provide opportunities for women, particularly women of color. She also helped secure a deal to bring the Grammys back to New York.

More recently, she served as city census director and executive assistant corporation counsel at the New York City Law Department. This year, the City reported a Census response rate of 61.8 percent – considerably higher than most major cities in the U.S.

“I’m really proud of the work I did as [census] director,” beamed Menin. “We achieved historic results from New York. We surpassed those of every major comparable American city.”

She further explained that the chaotic leadership of President Donald Trump (R) over the last four years highlights the need for politicians with her experience level running the city. 

“I believe that particularly in light of the crisis that we’re in vis a vis COVID, it’s gonna be up to the city government to take a lead on helping the city to rebuild,” Menin asserted. “I was intricately involved in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after 9/11. I chaired the community board for seven years. I started a not-for-profit organization that was one of the leading drivers downtown of redevelopment efforts. So once again, I want to play a role in helping the city to recover, and I believe the City Council is the perfect place to play such a role.”

As part of the city’s recovery, she cited her additional experience as a former restaurant owner to urge and help the city’s vulnerable small businesses to access federal grants to stay afloat.

“There is significant funding still left in the federal program, and unfortunately, there are many small businesses in the city that are just not aware of that,” said Menin.

As the campaign starts to gear up, she understands that being on the City Council will come with challenges. Still, she is confident that her experience gives her what it takes to manage them.

“I have dealt with so many issues in the two decades that I have been a public servant. So whether it’s how you come about affordable housing, how do you build three new schools…I’ve very used to dealing with challenges,” said Menin. “How do you work with the community? How do you overcome opposition? How do you build a coalition? How do you build consensus around an issue? These are the things I’ve dealt with for so many years.”

More from Around New York