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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 to Downtown Express.
In two short phone interviews 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, Downtown political observers in 2011 when she defeated the 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 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 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, 500, 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, when you factor in the expected matching funds.
Rajkumar, who has only been raising money for about two months, raised 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.