Touting her record of funding public safety and quality of life improvements, Democratic incumbent Julie Menin is running for a second term to represent New York City Council District 5, which includes the eastern part of the Upper East Side, plus Sutton Place, East Harlem and Roosevelt Island. In a special off-cycle election due to census redistricting, Menin will face off against Republican newcomer Elizabeth Golluscio.
Formerly an attorney and small business owner, Menin, 54, first got involved in local politics in the wake of the 9/11 attacks when she created a Lower Manhattan revitalization non-profit and later joined Community Board 1 downtown. From there, she became the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, the Commissioner of The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and then the Director of the Census for the City.
“I have the experience to continue to deliver results,” Menin told Upper East Site in a recent interview. “I know city government inside and out, having run three city agencies as commissioner.”
Overall, Menin estimated, she’s brought in over $40 million in funding for projects in District 5, “three times more than the district was receiving prior to my tenure in office.”
The money has been used to pay for public safety and sanitation measures, school, public library and park upgrades, and transportation improvements, plus over $2 million in renovations for area hospitals.
At the beginning of her first term, antisemitic incidents were at an all-time high. Menin gathered local leaders for a town hall advising neighbors on how to combat the rising hate.
“We need to be doubling down on these antisemitic incidents, and the first thing to do is to call them out,” Menin, herself the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, said. “But secondly, we need to make sure that people know how to report any incidents of antisemitism.”
She has also implemented programs in schools to educate children about antisemitism, and supports the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Division. “We can’t under-resource them and underfund them.”
In terms of public safety, “It’s top of mind for constituents in the district, and that is why I’ve worked really hard since I’ve been in there to lower crime,” Menin said.
So far, she has funded the installation of 34 new NYPD cameras and more foot patrols in District 5. She claimed that, due in part to her efforts, crime in the 19th Precinct is down 20%. This figure refers to an 18% drop in crime in July of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Overall, since last year, total crime on the Upper East Side has declined by just under 4%, according to NYPD data.
“I’m [also] very focused right now on passing a package of bills on retail theft,” Menin said, describing a problem that has been a factor in several businesses closing on the Upper East Side, including at least four pharmacies, as Upper East Site has reported. “We cannot have situations where you have small businesses invest in our community, open up a location and then [be] forced to close because of retail theft.”
Menin is one of many council members co-sponsoring a bill that would require all motorized vehicles to be registered and bear license plates, mitigating the lack of accountability posed by e-bikes and mopeds, which often cause road congestion, commit traffic violations, and injure pedestrians.
To improve sanitation, Menin has allocated funding for garbage can pickups four times a day — which she called “the highest amount of litter basket pickup that this district has ever seen,” — as well as expanding composting efforts.
As for rodent mitigation, Menin has been at the forefront of the war on rats with her use of BurrowRx, a technology she’s put into use along the busy East 86th Street corridor, that, though effective, some animal rights advocates call “cruel” and “inhumane.”
The council member has also been proactive about noise pollution, partnering with the Department of Environmental Protection to install a noise camera — a combination of microphones and cameras used to enforce sound ordinances — in Yorkville.
Recently, she went to bat for her Lenox Hill constituents who were plagued by construction noise and floodlights keeping them up long into the night, getting workers to end their days earlier.
“We want to make sure that we are responsive and that we’re solving peoples’ problems,” Menin said. “I’m also focused on my legislative work and making sure that we’re continuing to enact groundbreaking legislation that moves the needle.”
Though slightly concerned that those in District 5 may not be aware of this month’s election, Menin is committed to making it known. “You want to remind people that this is a civic duty to vote, we want to remind people to vote, we want to get the word out.”
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The City Council election will take place this November 7th, with early voting from October 28th to November 5th. To find your polling place, visit New York City’s Board of Elections website.