Rajkumar readies to announce her challenge to Chin

Jenifer Rajkumar singing last September for her neighbors at the annual Battery Park City block party.  File photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Jenifer Rajkumar singing last September for her neighbors at the annual Battery Park City block party. File photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

BY JOSH ROGERS | Saying Lower Manhattan needs “a stronger, more active voice on the City Council,” Jenifer Rajkumar is about to formally announce her bid to unseat Margaret Chin in this year’s Democratic primary.

“When major developers come to the South Street Seaport, or to Greenwich Village, or to the Lower East Side, and we are deciding how the land will be used, I will always represent one thing and one thing only — the people that elected me, not any outside interests,” Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader and Battery Park City resident, said in a statement.

In two short phone interviews on Mon., March 18, she said she had not decided on an announcement date, but she left little doubt it would be coming soon. She now has a few paid consultants, and according to a campaign press release, a final decision was “days away.”

She declined to say much more before her announcement.

Rajkumar, 30, is an attorney with Sanford Heisler L.L.P. She surprised, if not shocked, Lower Manhattan political observers in 2011 when she defeated the area’s longtime incumbent district leader, Linda Belfer.

Since then, Rajkumar has been an active presence Downtown, attending community board meetings and neighborhood events, and she’s a regular at her home political club, Downtown Independent Democrats.

She did not directly criticize Chin but did say she favored “bottom-up democracy.”

Chin’s opponents have criticized her for not consulting enough with community members on issues like New York University’s 2031 development plans or on the creation of a business improvement district in Soho. It’s a charge Chin and her supporters dismiss as baseless.

Before the issue was even raised in a short phone interview on Tuesday, Chin, 58, said one of her proudest accomplishments was getting a plan approved for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area after it was stalled for decades.

“The whole community was able to come together to find a solution,” she said, adding that 50 percent of the apartments, or 500 total, would be for low- and middle-income tenants.

“I am proud of my record in the City Council and I am very confident the people in the district will vote for me overwhelmingly,” she said.

She scoffed at Rajkumar’s veiled criticisms, saying, “What have you done?”

Both candidates say they have just about raised the $168,000 spending limit they will have this year, once the expected matching funds are factored in.

Rajkumar, who has only been raising money for about two months, reported hauling in nearly $30,000 in the latest filing (including a karaoke fundraiser), bringing her total to just under $67,000. Chin took in $12,695 in her latest numbers bringing her up to $109,585.

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11 Responses to Rajkumar readies to announce her challenge to Chin

  1. Village Resident

    Run Jenifer Run!!

  2. "Chin, 58, said one of her proudest accomplishments was getting a plan approved for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area after it was stalled for decades."

    Chin – a Johnny-come-lately – had little to do with getting SPURA moving.

    It was Sheldon Silver who was blocking the development for years and his decision to finally support SPURA was the catalyst, despite what Chin claims.

    “I am proud of my record in the City Council" = Margaret Chin

    - Proud of selling the Village out to NYU?

    - Proud of selling Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport this week to the Howard Hughes Corporation and their paid lobbyists despite widespread popular opposition to the boondoggle?
    (See the lobbyists in this picture at the Council thanking Chin for her sell-out http://www.downtownexpress.com/2013/03/20/council

    - Proud of the Chinatown BID that hundreds of small Chinese mom&pops opposed?

    - Proud of pushing through the SoHo BID despite overwhelming opposition from the community and the other electeds?

    - Proud of taking $6000 from an overseas Chinese bank that got you to overturn the landmarking in the Council of your own landmarking a year earlier of 135 Bowery, an 1817 Federal building that the bank demolished to build a tawdry commercial structure?

    - Proud of constantly supporting the Nightlife industries requests for liquor licenses in quiet residential neighborhoods?

    Are these what you are proud of, Council member Chin?

  3. I am thrilled that someone will run against Chin. I regret my vote last time and can't wait to rectify that mistake. Chin has been on the wrong side of the voters on issue after issue. But 135 Bowery put it over the top for me. The local community worked so hard to get the LPC to designate that building – it's a very, very difficult thing to accomplish – and then she killed it. Turns out it was owned by the head of her Chinatown BID fundraising team (who by the way, is now selling the building, so any concessions gained by Chin are now down the drain). That was the last straw for me. Go Jenifer!

  4. Georgette Fleischer

    Jenifer Rajkumar stood with Margaret Chin’s constituents when Chin would not stand with us herself, on the SoHo or Broadway Business Improvement District, and on N.Y.U.’s devastating expansion plan. When a hundred of us were escorted out of City Hall on July 25th by armed gendarmes before that ignominious vote on N.Y.U., Jenifer was escorted out right alongside us. Why would we reelect a Councilwoman who works against us, when we have a fresh alternative who is ready, willing, and able to work with us?

    Georgette Fleischer
    Founder, Friends of Petrosino Square

  5. Margaret chin is a racist sell out, who has hurt esp. low income blacks and Latinos and has worked with Bloomberg to displace low income residents from Chinatown and les. Her recent stand on SPURA is despicable; she helped pass a plan where the majority of housing units built will be for the rich; furthermore she has endorsed the city's plans to build luxury high rises on NYCHA property.

    Anybody but Chin.

    • Do you know precisely how many Latinos and blacks Chin's AAFE has displaced in their push to gentrify downtown?

      Those numbers should be revealed.

  6. veronica willis

    Margaret Chin has done an extraordinary job leading downtown. She supported the residents and their rights when the Occupy Wall Street movement was impacting the residents quality of life. She supported and fought for the Zadroga Bill to garner health benefits for all lower Manhattan residents including the first responders. She cares very deeply about the citizens of lower Manhattan and we are very lucky to have her representing us in city council.

    • You are misinformed. Chin didn’t do anything on Zadroga.
      That was our Congress members. And on Occupy Wall Street, she had a confused
      response, helping neither her constituents nor the movement.

      ***Most importantly, on the very biggest decisions of her term (NYU, Seaport, etc), where
      she was called on to lead, Chin failed miserably.*** She is not a leader but a follower of big money. She can’t
      stand up to the pressure and does not stand up for her constituents. She represents real estate companies, not
      her constituents. Then, she lies to us acting like we got a good deal when our neighborhood is going to
      be destroyed.

      New leadership is required. I am voting for Rajkumar.

  7. " fought for the Zadroga Bill" – who wouldn't??? That was a no brainer… literally. Chin has been a total disappointment.

  8. Veronica:
    OWS was fighting for the 99% and for economic justice, working for the poor and middle-class against the entitled. Their efforts were widely supported by progressive people throughout the world. Even Shelly Silver took a benign approach to them.

    The fact that you and Chin – the only elected downtown- oppose OWS and their goal, speaks a lot worse for you two tools than you could ever speak against OWS.

    Shame on you!

  9. A-ha! I see I may have sparked a small movement! There’s now another “TruthtoPower” posting here. Seems I have a doppelgänger! But it’s all good, as I could not agree with him/her more. Indeed, time and time again Margaret Chin has said one thing and done another, in effect betraying the three most critically important — no, essential — qualities that we all look for and demand in our leaders: truth, courage and accountability. Instead, she has proven herself to be little more than a spineless hypocrite, a sell-out to big power, big money and big development (even when it comes in the form of a “non-profit” educational institution already receiving millions in federal grants and tax breaks). What she most certainly has not be nor ever will be is advocate and champion of her true constituents, the downtown residents (and, she will soon enough be reminded, voters) of New York. Born of expediency rather than strong convictions, her rudderless approach to governance as exemplified by her capitulation to pressure from Quinn and the bullying Speaker’s own taskmaster, Mayor Bloomberg, in the case of NYU 2031 in particular may have been her most craven display yet. Meanwhile, the experience of seeing her petulant surrogate Matt Viggiano display a level of incompetence only matched by his utter indifference to local community affairs at various town halls is downright embarrassing. We can and must do so much better. And in electing Jennifer, we will. Election day simply cannot come soon enough for this NYU faculty member and proud Villager.

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