It is always good to catch a rising star in New York politics, especially one who seeks close ties to the Irish American community.
Julie Menin, 43, may be a name not well known in the community right now, but that will surely change in the months ahead. She is running for Manhattan borough president next year and is the early favorite to win the important job.
She promises to be active in issues of concern to the Irish community if elected, including immigration and job creation.
She is already off to a flying start as The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
“Julie Menin is the first candidate for Manhattan borough president to raise all the money she is legally entitled to spend in the 2013 primary, a milestone that gives her an edge in what will be a competitive race,” the paper reported.
“Menin, who recently stepped down as chairwoman of the Lower Manhattan community board because of term limits, plans to report that she has raised more than $450,000 during the six-month fundraising period that ends Wednesday, bringing her total to more than $930,000 since she began fundraising in November,” the paper reported.
One of her biggest supporters is movie legend Robert De Niro, who showed up at a recent fundraiser.
Menin was inspired by 9/11 to get into politics. She and her husband Bruce, a prominent real estate developer, lived within walking distance of the World Trade Center where she ran the successful restaurant Vine.
The events of that day pitched her into active politics. Unlike others who wrung their hands, she decided to try and help her devastated neighborhood
“It was personal,” she told me in an Interview. “We wanted to give back to help our community, to show the terrorists they could not win.”
Menin founded and became president of Wall Street Rising, a non-profit organization created in the aftermath of the attacks to restore "vibrancy and vitality" in Lower Manhattan.
She also became chair of the local community board and led the fight on many issues after 9/11. Most notably she lobbied hard for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be held elsewhere, believing it would have been folly to hold it in Lower Manhattan because of the disrupt to business and ordinary lives.
Menin was also active on the Ground Zero mosque controversy and has developed a strong media presence through her Huffington Post blog and other outlets.
In order to run for office she has now stepped down from the community board.
At the farewell meeting she was widely lauded. “I loved chairing the community board,” she said.
“I liked producing results. I like dealing with very tough challenges and trying to come up with a solution.”
Tough challenges are nothing new in her family. Her grandparents were Holocaust survivors, and the fact that they escaped that horrific event has certainly informed Menin’s priorities.
As for the race ahead, she is looking forward to the challenge. “I think I can really have an impact,” she said.
“This is the greatest city in the world, and to be borough president would be an unbelievable honor. I look forward to the race.”