Julie Menin has two important jobs right now, and New Yorkers may be hearing her name a lot more frequently this fall when candidates start gearing up to run for district attorney, borough president and other New York City offices in 2021.
For the past year, the city census czar has led one of the state’s highest-profile campaigns to ensure that the decennial survey counts every New York City resident, despite failed efforts by the Trump administration to drive down response rates among noncitizens.
In addition, Menin has a senior role with the city Law Department to bring cases whenever the federal government and corporations take actions that harm New Yorkers. Once census workers finish their tallies this summer, Menin will have to make an important decision about what to do next in her career.
“If someone like Julie ran and won Manhattan borough president, you’d have to talk about her as a potential mayoral candidate,” Metropolitan Public Strategies CEO Neal Kwatra said. “Given the paucity of top-tier female candidates, someone like Julie is going to have a real impact on the race if she gets into (it) because we have a lot of white guys running for a lot of seats.”
But running the top law enforcement post in Manhattan may be more enticing.
Menin positioned herself as a legal advocate when she investigated the possible illegal sales of handguns online, oversaw the city’s paid sick leave outreach campaign, and found that women were taxed more than men for similar products while at the Department of Consumer Affairs, which she described as a “prosecutorial agency.”
The challenge, of course, is that the incumbent may not be going anywhere. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has given no indication he will step down after a rocky third term in which he’s been criticized for accepting contributions from defense attorneys and for mishandling cases involving President Donald Trump’s children and Harvey Weinstein.
Vance would be the favorite in a crowded race, and so far several candidates, including Assemblyman Dan Quart, have announced their intentions to run.
“A bigger field plays to (the) advantage of the incumbent since opposition divides evenly,” said Kwatra, who helped Ken Thompson defeat then-Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes in 2013.
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