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About 1,000 residents and numerous high-profile dignitaries packed the Frank Sinatra School of Performing Arts High School auditorium Saturday evening to celebrate the inauguration of City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), one of the borough’s two first openly gay politicians to be elected to the Council.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime,” Van Bramer told the cheering crowd that included his mother, longtime partner Dan Hendrick and numerous family members.
The newly elected politician will represent the 26th Council District, which includes Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and part of Maspeth. Van Bramer and Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) became Queens’ first two openly gay Council members when they were elected in November.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), city Comptroller John Liu, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and many others praised Van Bramer for his extensive background of community activism that includes fighting for equal rights for the LGBT community to advocating for education as the chief external affairs officer of the Queens Library for the past 11 years.
“Jimmy got here the old-fashioned way — he earned it,” Schumer said. “%u2026 These neighborhoods need good representation because they’re not out there complaining all the time. Jimmy has the intelligence and integrity to deliver for these neighborhoods.”
A life-long resident of western Queens, Van Bramer was officially sworn in to office Dec. 29, but held his inauguration party Saturday. The auditorium’s ground floor and balcony were overflowing with supporters and the party included performances by the Sunnyside Drum Corps, the Aviation High School Color Guard and the Center of Hope International Choir. The evening was emceed by Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley.
Liu, a former councilman from Flushing, also touted Van Bramer’s record, saying he is a “man with tremendous talent” who has worked hard to “make sure Queens’ public libraries are the best libraries in the entire country.”
Queens Public Library circulates the greatest number of books in the country and has the second-largest collection in the nation.
Quinn praised Van Bramer for his record of fighting for civil rights, including organizing the first LGBT club at St. John’s University, where Van Bramer attended college.
“He is somebody who is so courageous, so fearless, so hardworking,” Quinn said. “Whatever he thinks is right, he works hard to make it happen. He is somebody who’ll bring his whole heart and soul to this City Council.”
U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) and Nydia Vazquez (D-Brooklyn) all complimented Van Bramer, citing his dedication to Queens residents.
“He is a neighborhood success story,” Maloney said. “Jimmy’s been a trailblazer all his life and he’ll continue to blaze trails in the City Council.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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