Rajkumar announces campaign, knocking Chin on Seaport & N.Y.U.

Jenifer Rajkumar, front, announces her City Council candidacy April 7 at City Hall, while her parents, left, and other supporters looked on. Downtown Express photo by Josh Rogers.

Jenifer Rajkumar, front, annunces her City Council candidacy April 7 at City Hall, while her parents, left, and other supporters looked on. Downtown Express photo by Josh Rogers.

(Originally posted April 10, 2012)  By JOSH ROGERS | City Council candidate Jenifer Rajkumar made her formal announcement April 7 accusing opponent Margaret Chin of listening more to big developers than the people of Lower Manhattan.

“Under this top-down approach, the councilmember goes into the room with a real estate or outside interest, closes the door, makes the deal and shuts the people out,” Rajukmar said of Chin, the incumbent who is also running in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary.

Rajkumar, 30, a Democratic district leader and attorney who moved to Battery Park City in 2010, chose the most common N.Y.C. location for a campaign announcement, City Hall, for an uncommon reason.

“It is at this very spot that I decided to run for Council,” Rajkumar (pronounced rahj KOO mar), said at the Sunday announcement. Last July, she and other opponents of New York University’s expansion project were not allowed to stay for the vote in which Chin and most of her colleagues approved the plan.

“We were kicked out of City Hall that day,” Rajkumar said. “We were not listened to and the Council nearly unanimously voted in favor of the gargantuan expansion into the Village.”

Chin did win concessions from N.Y.U. reducing the size of two of the proposed buildings by more than half, but many in the Village said the project was still out of scale to the neighborhood.

Rajkumar, who did not mention Chin’s name at the event, also criticized the councilmember’s vote three weeks ago to approve the redevelopment of the Pier 17 mall in the South Street Seaport.

“We wanted to preserve the historic Seaport district, insure its future in the face of large development and preserve a world class food market,” Rajkumar said.

Chin and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn got the developer, Howard Hughes Corp., and the city to agree to two locally sourced permanent food markets of more than 10,000 square feet nearby, but Rajkumar said the markets would be too small.

It was only after the plan was approved by the Council that the city released the unredacted portion of its agreement outlining the Hughes firm’s intention to build a large hotel and apartment building in the neighborhood.

A few weeks prior to the Council vote, Rajkumar did not offer specifics on what her Pier 17 strategy would be if she were representing the district, but on Tuesday, she said that the land use application was a missed opportunity to get more concessions on the rest of the developer’s plans.

She said she learned “tough negotiating skills” as a civil rights attorney representing individuals against large corporations.

In response, Chin’s campaign spokesperson, Austin Finan, issued a statement saying the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure known as ULURP is “transparent and inclusive” with numerous reviews and many public hearings.

“Ms. Rajkumar clearly does not understand this simple concept or she is purposely trying to mislead voters for political gain,” Finan added. “Both scenarios are troubling and indicate that she either lacks the experience or the integrity to hold public office. Councilmember Chin has always valued and listened to the concerns of her constituents. No one is ever shut out or turned away from her office and that is a policy she will continue to uphold when she is re-elected.”

Rajukumar is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford Law School.

She would also let constituents vote on how to spend discretionary money set aside for capital projects in the district.

Kelly Magee, also a Chin spokesperson, said Chin is taking a look at “participatory budgeting,” but she already talks regularly with “grassroots groups.”

If elected, Rajkumar said she would employ “bottom up leadership” in which community members would be included in negotiations.

“I am the girl always on your corner, the district leader asking, ‘what can I do for you in the neighborhood,’” she said at City Hall.

The First Council District, one of the most diverse economically, includes Wall St., Chinatown, the Seaport, Battery Park City, Tribeca, Soho as well as parts of the Village and the Lower East Side.

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45 Responses to Rajkumar announces campaign, knocking Chin on Seaport & N.Y.U.

  1. Very Impressed

    Jenifer Rajkumar was fabulous on her announcement on Sunday. WOW! She has been a breath of fresh air as our District Leader. I like her much better than Chin, who has been selling out and doesn't stand up for us. Let's seize this opportunity to put in a fresh, smart, energetic leader who will stand up for our community.

  2. "Chin did win concessions from N.Y.U. reducing the size of two of the proposed buildings by more than half, but many in the Village said the project was still out of scale to the neighborhood."

    Chin may have reduced the size of two of the buildings, but the plan itself was only reduced by 20% , and most of that was done by Scott Stringer. When the green plan was proposed, or when expanding NYU into the Financial District was proposed, why weren't these plans ever considered?

    We need a Council Member who will LISTEN to the people and groups that built these communities, who will work with us, not just someone who caters to the companies and outside interests who PROFIT off our communities.

    I think Jenifer Rajkumar will be that Council Member. She has my support.

  3. I am supporting Jenifer Rajkumar. I supported Margaret Chin in 2009 but am switching sides. The reason is that I have NEVER seen Margaret Chin on the West Side. It's unacceptable for a rep to be neglectful of so many of the neighborhoods she represents. For this reason, I am supporting Jenifer Rajkumar this time around. Rajkumar is already active on the West Side. Anyway, I hear people in Chinatown and the LES are upset with Chin too. Seems to me we need a new representative that is just going to be stronger overall.

  4. Fresh Approach

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, from LuLu's to discretionary funding, we can't keep playing business as usual. We need a new approach in District 1 and Jenifer will be that new approach! We need a Council Member who will stand with her constituents, not kick them out of City Hall when they disagree with her!

  5. Jenifer is better

    Jenifer Rajkumar stood with the community on the Seaport issue, and Margaret Chin did not. Jenifer Rajkumar supported Save Our Seaport in its efforts to preserve the Seaport District and a world class food market that could become an economic engine for NYC. And what did Margaret Chin do? She handed the Seaport over to the Howard Hughest corporation on a platter: "Here, take it."

    Chin sold out again on NYU and on the SoHo BID— fight where, once again, Jenifer Rajkumar was there standing with us.

    This choice is a no brainer. We should vote for Jenifer Rajkumar.

    • OnToSeptember!

      Chin sold us out, but Jenifer stood with us. That's bargain. Now let's make Jenifer our negotiator. We need a partner!

  6. "It was only after the plan was approved by the Council that the city released the unredacted portion of its agreement outlining the Hughes firm’s intention to build a large hotel and apartment building in the neighborhood."

    Yes, I think Jenifer's the better candidate and will be a better advocate for us in the Council. But this to me is the bigger issue. Chin KNEW about what Howard Hughes Corp really wanted to do at the Seaport and HID IT FROM US FOR TWO YEARS. This, to me, is unconscionable. We need a City Council Member who will level with us.

    • Jenifer is Better

      That's true. It's not just that Jenifer is an impressive advocate, but also that Chin's actions have been reprehensible. Chin's lack of transparency has indeed been shocking. I agree that the way she hid the developer's plans from the people was… shockingly unbelievable and just awful, awful representation. We need some real leadership. I really hope Jenifer wins. Anyone but Chin.

  7. Bloomberg

    Bottom up …Let us cut this nexus – Bottom up.

  8. Jenifer's got my vote. The City Council could use some new blood!

  9. NotesFromLittleItaly

    Rogers is right. District 1 is one of the most economically diverse in the City, not to mention one of the more culturally diverse. I watched Jenifer on Sunday call for participatory budgeting in District 1, to work with each community in the District, empowering and engaging them to decide how discretionary funds are spent. I think that's exactly the right direction. In a district as diverse as this one, we need programs like participatory budgeting to make sure that each neighborhood feels like it is engaged with its City Council Member and with each other. I think Jenifer will be a City Council Member for each neighborhood. Something we haven't had for a long time.

  10. OnToSeptember!

    Included in negotiations? Voting on how to spend discretionary funds? Bottom up leadership?

    Jenifer feels like a breath of fresh air already.

  11. urban conservative

    Wow. After seeing all these comments it's Ryan Brumberg revisisted.

  12. From Chinatown to the Village, our District's population is growing every single year. Between Rajkumar and Chin, the real question we have to answer is how is our District going to accommodate all of these new people. Will it be gentrification? Or will we work with community groups to develop ULURPS that build our neighborhoods up along with those who built them in the first place. From NYU to Seward Park, we have to take a hard look at what was promised, what was delivered, who delivered it, and what could have been. It's a hard call, but we're lucky to have the choice.

  13. Jennifer may or may not be a better option than Chin, but this is for sure: Jennifer is not smart, and I want smart people in office. She barely got through both of her universities, she plagiarized work, she is a terrible writer and illogical thinker. She also has a few screws loose. Ask anyone who went to school with her and experienced her very odd personality. Also, please notice that she's incapable of holding down a regular job for long. Her incompetence becomes obvious, and due to her very privileged upbringing, she can just quit and live off mommy and daddy instead of learning to navigate a real job.

    • Only stupid people go to Univer.of Pen and Stamford. Smart one go to city College of NY.

      • Only stupid people go to Univer.of Pen and Stanford. Smart one go to city College of NY.
        Of course smart ones take LULU's

    • Buldozers in public parks- Chin win
      Historic neighborhoods auctioned to developers – Chin win
      20 percent affordable housing – definite Chin win
      BIDS in Chinatown, Soho- home run – Chin wins

    • I've known Jenifer for awhile, so let's set the record straight, because I know Jenifer is really sometimes too nice to brag. Jenifer is the graduate of two ivy league schools. She graduate from college phi beta kappa, meaning she must have been in the top 5%. She won not one– but several– awards for writing the best papers in her class. Then she went to one of the world's best law schools, where she was awarded several merit based fellowships, before heading to work at the some of the best social justice organizations in the country. Now she's of counsel at a top litigation firm, and one that fights for civil rights/the vulnerable at that. And inbetween, she won a resounding victory to become district leader in lower manhattan. And I know there's even more impressive stuff she did that I'm forgetting. I"m all for open democracy and debate, but not spreading falsehoods. The people need to know who the candidates REALLY are. I certainly hope that Margaret Chin strategy isn't just to lie her way into re-election.

    • Really Nancy this sort of personal attack has no place on this page. You must be a really angry hater sort of another Mitch McConnell.

  14. I heard Jenifer speak at the DID meeting last night and was very impressed to learn that she actually helped to shape the Obamacare law. I've also been very impressed by the turnout I've seen in the pictures from her announcement on Sunday. These may sound like little points, but, to me, they show that Jenifer is exactly what we need–someone with a strong legislative ability who can also organize across neighborhoods .

  15. Yes She (Chin) listens and ignores and her transparency is foggy.

  16. In Jenifer we have a real opportunity to get top talent into local government. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of an Ivy League School, graduate of one of country's top law schools (Stanford), and currently practicing law at one of the country's best litigation firms. Plus, she helped shape ObamaCare in Washington DC. With her background, she, could have made a lot of money doing something else. But she didn't. She chose to serve us. I like it. Reminds me of Hillary kind of.

  17. Downtowner Who Knows

    Margaret Chin has had an open-door policy to anyone who cared to drop by her office (often staying well into the night to listen to people's concerns). And she has gotten things done: Seward Park Housing (50 percent affordable. What other pols got more than 80/20 ? ) Smart is knowing what you are talking about. Jenifer critized the Seward Park deal in an open forum but then admitted she had never attended ANY of the CB meetings where it was discussed. The Seaport Deal has all kinds of ULURP protections written into it. Thinking people will see the difference between someone eager to rule and someone who governs, and governs well.

    • Are you kidding me??? Margaret Chin Does not Govern Well at all. She is a SELL OUT. Jenifer Rajkumar's opinions on SPURS were well thought out, and Jenifer stood up for affordable housing and union jobs when Chin would not. Plus, Jenifer has been a district leader for the lower east side! um, hello!

  18. Wow, check out Jenifer Rajkumar's interview in the New York Times. She seems well principled, very intelligent, and like a real progressive champion. Folks, we got a candidate on our hands.

  19. Downtowner Who Knows

    Ms. Rajkumar has disappointed many by launching a campaign that has gone so negative. And her followers seem equally willing to just throw word bombs. I will await the facts. I'm not going to vote based on looks or resume (no matter how impressive.) Those of us who know how tough it is to work within the Council or with this Mayor can safely judge Margaret (and Scott Stringer who backed the same NYU deal Chin did) as getting better results when there could have been nothing gained. And I'd be careful about calling anyone so new "a real progressive champion." What has she accomplished in her years as District Leader? We all worked to promote Obama care. Get real. .

    • To be fair, as far as Jenifer goes, I think there's a real difference between pointing out the difference between you and your opponent and going negative. I feel that Jenifer has done the former. And, personally, I feel that actually working with Congress on the law in DC is different from our supporting it from home. You can disagree with me, but that's how I feel.

    • *Chin* is NEGATIVE

      I disagree. Chin is the one who has gotten really negative and thrown barbs. Rajkumar has stayed positive and avoided such low displays. As the article shows, Chin is the one releasing official statements making personal attacks on Rajkumar. It's ridiculous.

      Rajkumar, in her announcement, was really positive and uplifting, speaking in 4 languages for a diverse community. And Rajkumar was classy enough not to even mention Chin by name (as this article points out).

      As for Rajkumar's "followers," they are just being honest. They are concerned citizens upset about the destruction Chin's deals have wraught on their homes.

  20. ” {Chin} has gotten things done: Seward Park Housing (50 percent affordable. What other pols got more than 80/20 ? )

    Stop BSing.

    Chin only got what Shelly Silver decided to give to her.

    Silver held this housing development up for decades to appease his Grand Street base.

    Once he finally decided to open it up, all the low-income housing will be located at the opposite end of the development from Shelly’s peoples’ co-ops.
    Don’t want those minorities hanging around Shelly’s people, do we?

    Haven’t her group, AAFE,been criticized for pushing minorities out of housing in order to rehab the buildings, and replace them with wealthier tenants, many of whom are Chinese?
    Isn’t that so?

    Chin is more guilty of Housing Discrimination than affordable housing.

  21. Rajkumar is a puppet being run by west side residents who couldn't stand that the Lower East side dared to elect Chin. For too long residents of Chinatown and the rest of the lower east side have been ignored by the City Council. Entrenched CB1 pols are running Rajkumar cuz she's an easily controlled neophyte. She will dance the tune that these old pols call for her.

    Don't let them win. Chin for City Council.

    • “{Rajkumar is} being run by west side residents who couldn’t stand that the Lower East side dared to elect Chin.”

      What nonsense and lies are you spewing??

      Chin swept almost every neighborhood in 2009, especially LES and LWS and BPC. Only in Gerson’s base near Wash. Sq. did she not do so well.
      Even today, the two current West Side district leaders are still supporting her!

      However, it is Chin’s abject failure as an elected official – if not her out and out venality – that is causing this tsunami of rejection against her from the common people, the voters – while the party bosses still are backing her, both west side and east side.

      You wanna go with the party bosses? Go with Chin.
      If not, go with Rajkumar.

    • LES for Jenifer

      Not so fast. Many of us in the Lower East Side and Chinatown are unhappy with Chin too. Chin's NOT the Lower East Side candidate. She has been privatizing our neighborhood. She has been WEAK on affordable housing. Chin just goes along with whatever Bloomberg and Quinn want, even if it means running middle class families on the Lower East Side and Chinatown under the bus. If Rajkumar promises to stand up for us, then I'm going for Rajkumar.

  22. Tsunami of rejection??? A few comments by Rajkumar worshipers does not make a tsunami. Chin is a straight talker, does what she says and works to compromise. I'm guessing Rajkumar's ability to lead will be as limited as the fabric on the dresses she chooses.

    • i happen to like her dresses. hot. lol.

    • Chin is a 'straight talker'? Are you kidding?? She will clearly lose the next election because she has failed her constituencies throughout her district. Almost every area feels abandoned by her.

  23. Ha! What are you smoking?? Anyone honest knows Chin is no "straight talker." Chin is the OPPOSITE of a straight talker. On multiple ULURPs, she told the community one thing, and did another. She keeps you in the dark. She misleads you. Then she surprises everyone on the day of the vote with a shoddy deal that basically hands the community over to big developers. She doesn't listen to community input.

    Also, Chin doesn't answer direct questions. She just says "that's how it is" and "I am your councilmember" so you shouldn't ask me any questions! What the heck is that? This is a democracy, where the community should be involved and where there should be transparency. Chin simple doesn't get this.

  24. Soho For Rising Star

    Jenifer Rajkumar is just the kind of accomplished, young rising star that we need to clean up our city politics. I am very impressed with her stellar credentials. Also, by her commitment to standing up for the disenfrachised.

  25. LES for Jenifer

    Agree with you there. Chin doesn't "compromise." She just lets shady businesses from OUTSIDE the district STEAMROLL over her constituents, just because that's what the Speaker and Mayor want. Only someone disingenuous would call this "compromise." The voters are smart and will not be fooled. They will vote OUT Chin this September. Anyone But Chin.

  26. Check out Jenifer Rajkumar's interview in the NY Times East Village Local today. She's impressive. It's really heartening to see someone so young with such a good grasp of City Politics.

  27. I can't imagine I am the only person who noticed that many of the pro-Jenifer postings, especially the first 10 or so, are written in pretty much the exact same writing style, with the same political-type speak lanuage and argument framing and same vocabulary level. It is abundantly clear that they were all written by Jenifer's campaign, and likely the same person. Kind of a bit dishonest and slimy to fake a groundswell of support for your campaign and to be that self-complimentary. I'm not sayng I am supporting Chin (who herself in highly unimpressive), but Jenifer's campaign had better stop trying to mislead the public or at least get much better at faking it! 🙂

    • LOL, your comment is so obviously false and clearly you are a Chin Shill! I hate it when people try to manipulate rather than persuade.

  28. Ask one question. Where was Chin when Sandy hit Lower Manhattan last October when the communities need help?

    • Downtown Veteran

      chin was nowhere during sandy! she showed up 10 days AFTER the biggest natural disaster to hit her district. julie menin was there from the start, even shelly was out charging mobile phones. squadron too. we didn't hear from chin at all. i've been pleased with jenifer rajkumar after hearing her at CB1 and a few other community meetings. she seems more in tune with the district than chin has been the last 20 years

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