CITY HALL — Former Community Board 1 Chairwoman Julie Menin officially launched her campaign for Manhattan borough president Wednesday, touting her response to Occupy Wall Street and the so-called "Ground Zero mosque."
At a rally with supporters on the steps of City Hall, Menin made the case that her experience leading lower Manhattan over the past decade has given her strong footing to succeed Scott Stringer, who is leaving the post to run for comptroller.
"I'm running for borough president because I believe my strong track record of leadership and solution-driven approach is what is needed in the challenging times our borough faces," Menin said in a statement.
She pointed to Community Board 1's efforts to revive lower Manhattan after 9/11, its defense of the Occupy Wall Street encampment and its 29-1 vote in favor of the proposed mosque and Muslim community center near the World Trade Center site — which some in the neighborhood had staunchly opposed.
After Wednesday's rally, Menin said that as the city continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, lower Manhattan has also been a model for how other parts of the city can thrive after setbacks.
"We went through a crisis in lower Manhattan. We've unfortunately gone through several crises," she said, pointing to three evacuations in the past 11 years.
"We've faced extremely challenging circumstances, but yet have been able to create job growth, build new schools and build affordable housing," she said.
She said her top three priorities if she wins will be maintaining and developing new affordable housing across the borough, creating jobs and building new schools to help ease overcrowding.
"Making sure that every parent has access to a good public school in their neighborhood is absolutely instrumental," she said.
Menin also released a list of more than 200 community leaders who have endorsed her campaign, including Richard Emery, president of the West End Preservation Society.
"Born in the crucible of 9/11, the mosque controversy, Occupy Wall Street...she understands problems in this city like no one can and does," Emery said.
Menin has proved a fundraising powerhouse, already raising nearly $1 million, according to the City Campaign Finance Board.
Menin will face term-limited City Councilman Robert Jackson, chairman of the council's Education Committee, who has raised over $140,000 and has just under $80,000 on hand.
Jackson's campaign spokesman said he was confident Jackson would prevail.
"Robert Jackson has an unmatched record of fighting for and getting results for the people of Manhattan, delivering on education for our children, and he's built a record of integrity, energy and leadership," Jackson spokesman Richard Fife said in a statement.
Others who have also been eyed as potential contenders include City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, who represents the Upper East Side, and Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side.