Jun 7, 2021
Justin Brannan, hardcore councilman
On this week's podcast, the city councilman discusses his roots in Bay Ridge—and in punk
Justin Brannan is not your average New York City councilmember. For starters, he probably has more tattoos than all of them combined, ever.
Before entering politics, he was a founding member of two successful hardcore punk bands: Indecision and Most Precious Blood. Despite playing music that sounds like “a refrigerator falling down the stairs”—which are his words—both bands were known for their commitments to social issues. And vegetarianism. That socially conscious bent stemmed from Brannan’s own childhood and adolescence growing up in Bay Ridge, where he would stand out in the 1980s as the straight edge kid with activist proclivities.
Today Brannan reps the area where he grew up. The 43rd District includes Bay Ridge as well as Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and portions of Bensonhurst. He is up for reelection this year (with an eye on the speaker’s seat) in a race that will see a massive restructuring of city government. He is also this week’s guest on “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast.”
“As a lot of people rightfully point out the pandemic has exposed and magnified inequity in our city and our state and our country that was always there,” he says on the podcast. “But now it would be malpractice for us to ignore it. In a sense it would be malpractice for us to put it back as broken as it was.”
The 43rd District is among the more politically diverse in New York City. At least, it’s hardly a progressive monolith. Brannan’s constituents are cops and firemen, and they are also Black Lives Matter supporters and immigrants. In that mix he’s earned himself a reputation as being extremely accessible and can be found frequently responding to residents online, in Facebook groups and dropping dad jokes on Twitter. (When a local woman’s tortoise went missing earlier this year, he even joined the search party.)
“It’s no secret that my district doesn’t always agree politically, and I think that’s fine … But you also had a lot of demagogues at work who want people at each others’ throats during what was already a highly combustible time,” he says on the podcast. “Ultimately my job is to be a public servant.”
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