It wasn’t a rock star, celebrity or famous sports figure that had entered the building — although with dozens of passersby clamoring to shake his hand, grab a photo and exchange a few words, one might think differently.
More than 300 guests — including elected officials, constituents, family and friends — came out to show their support and adulation for Councilmember Justin Brannan, as he was sworn in to office for yet another term Sunday afternoon.
Brannan’s inaugural celebration took place at Gargiulo’s. a Coney Island institution — which was fitting, since he now represents District 47, which was reconfigured during redistricting and includes Bath Beach and Coney Island, as well as his familiar Bay Ridge.
“Being elected for the first time is special, but being reelected to represent a brand-new district just hits different,” Brannan said. “Bay Ridge and Coney Island have been connected for over 40 years in the State Legislature, so I’m excited to strengthen that southern Brooklyn bond in the City Council.”
There was also no shortage of political powerhouses and noteworthy guests at the gala.
Among them were Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer; Attorney General Letitia James; New York State Comp- troller Thomas DiNapoli; Borough President Antonio Reynoso; House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries; District Attorney Eric Gonzalez; State Senators Iwen Chu and Andrew Gounardes; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Frank Seddio, former Democratic Party chairman and former Kings County Surrogate’s Court judge; Councilmembers Lincoln Restler (D-33) and Kalman Yeger (D-44); former Councilmembers Vincent Gentile and Domenic Recchia; and former Assemblymember Peter Abbate.
Schumer referred to Brannan as “a great leader” and a “smart and hardworking individual who represents his community better than anyone ever could.”
“I can confidently say that the communities of Bay Ridge, Bath Beach and this District 47 now have no greater advocate in the City Council,” Schumer said. “Whether you have a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ next to your name, this guy is working for you.”
DiNapoli said that he believes Bran- nan will provide independent, thoughtful analysis of the city budget and finances — making sure to not only balance the bud-get, but to diligently serve the people.
“In his role as chairman of the Council Finance Committee, Justin has a very important and very independent role to over- see city finances — something we’re certainly concerned about —and I can’t think of anyone better qualified to do that job.” AG James, who performed the swearing in ceremony, described Justin as “a bridge builder.”
“I’ve known and admired Justin for his ability to bring people together and to bridge the gap,” James said. “I’ve seen the strides he’s taken to transform his communities; I’ve seen his hard work. And as a ormer city councilmember, I know what that requires, and Justin does it every day.”
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso explained that it doesn’t matter where you are from in Brooklyn. “We are all on the same team, and our goal is to get Democrats like Justin Brannan, who actually know how to bring us together and not divide us, elected,” he said.
“He’s already accomplished so much for the communities he’s served,” Gonzalez noted, adding that what separates Bran- nan from our other elected officials is that there is no job that he thinks is too small for him to get involved in.
Chu said she “strongly feels the residents here, in Coney Island, and in this new district, are in better hands — and their quality of life will surely improve.”
And Seddio referred to Brannan as “a very qualified guy to do a very important job,” and that “as a Democrat in Brooklyn, it’s important that Brooklyn sticks together as much as we can.”
Yeger called Brannan “an old friend and a good friend.”
“Justin has delivered incredibly for Brooklyn,” he said. “He is somebody who knows how to fight, but he also knows when not to fight — and he’s somebody that you always want on your side, and I’m glad he’s on mine.”
Brannan told the capacity crowd that at the end of the day, it makes no difference if you’re a Democrat or Republican. He is here to serve everyone.
“It doesn’t matter if you voted for me or not,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a New Yorker since birth or since breakfast. I am here to serve all, be- cause we are all in this together — bound by our collective dreams and struggles — and by a desire to leave this world just a little bit better than how we found it for the next generation.”
Brannan, who is a lifelong “Bay Ridgian,” and the son of a record salesman and early childhood educator, toured the world with two hardcore bands he spearheaded before entering the political arena, travel- ing to over 50 countries across five continents.
“Growing up, I wanted to be a member of the Ramones, not a member of the City Council. But then I discovered local gov- ernment, and I fell in love,” Brannan said.
Some of Brannan’s noteworthy accomplishments as councilmember include bringing more than $150 million in direct investments to the community; building six new public schools to address crowded classrooms, introducing 429 bills and pass- ing 238 of them into law.
“I’m here today because you put me here,” Brannan said, “and that is not something I’ll never take for granted. Thanks to you, I’ve got the best job in the world.”
Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta