Borough president is a job that can attract the politically ambitious. Case in point: Brooklyn's Eric Adams.
Adams has unapologetically used the borough president's office as a springboard to a run for mayor. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also planned a mayoral run before dropping out last year. And former Queens Borough President Melinda Katz moved on to become Queens District Attorney last year, leaving her seat open.
Former City Councilman Donovan Richards took over that job last month after winning a crowded special election. But to win a full term this November, he must first stave off newly announced candidate Jimmy Van Bramer and others in the June Democratic primary.
Van Bramer has the support of the progressive left.
“It’s time for a new vision for Queens where working New Yorkers get ahead –– not real estate developers who put profit before people –– where we tax millionaires and billionaires and reimagine affordable housing, where we invest more resources in Black and brown communities and not the NYPD,” Van Bramer says in the ad that kicked off his campaign last week. “I know it’s really bad now, but we can create a better, more just world together.”
In Brooklyn, support from the left has flowed to Councilman Antonio Reynoso. But that race has by far the largest field: 13 candidates in all, including Councilman Robert Cornegy, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and Councilman Mathieu Eugene, as well as activist and hospital executive Khari Edwards.
The Manhattan borough president's race has drawn three established politicians: City Councilmen Ben Kallos and Mark Levine, and state Senator Brad Hoylman — plus others with government experience like former state official Lindsay Boylan.
The race for Bronx borough president has seen a shakeup of late: first, state Senator Luis Sepulveda was arrested on charges of choking his wife. Then last week a leading candidate, Councilman Rafael Salamanca dropped out. That leaves socially conservative Councilman Fernando Cabrera and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson atop the field. Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernandez is also a candidate.
Then there's Staten Island, the only borough where the ultimate winner could be decided in the Republican primary rather than the Democratic primary. Councilman Steven Matteo has the inside track, but is facing a challenge from longtime Republican operative Leticia Remauro.
As for the powers of the office: Borough presidents fund projects in their boroughs, appoint members of community boards and influence decisions on development. But mostly they've got a megaphone they can use to promote their borough – and, if they wish, to promote themselves.