The New York Minute

Interview Series: Meet Your Remarkable New York Neighbors

The City Councilman

Paul & Vince would like to welcome to the conversation Erik Bottcher of 3rd District New York City Council.
I think a lot of people don’t realize how accessible elected officials are. If you want to talk to your elected official or meet with your local council member, you probably can…and we’re always looking for good ideas.

Paul & Vince would like to welcome Erik Bottcher, member of the 3rd district of the New York City Council, which includes the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen.

Erik Bottcher is a dedicated public servant and activist. His career in public service began in 2009 as the LGBTQ & HIV/AIDS Community Liaison in the City Council’s community outreach unit. Erik then served in the same role statewide in the governor’s office, where he helped to organize the fight for marriage equality in New York State.

From 2015 to 2021, Erik served as Chief of Staff to Council Member Corey Johnson. In 2021, he was elected to represent City Council District 3, and is now Co-Chair of the Council’s Manhattan Delegation and is a member of the Progressive Caucus and the LGBTQ+ Caucus. He serves on the following City Council committees: Mental Health, Sanitation, Public Safety, Land Use, Zoning, Consumer Affairs, Civil Service and Labor.


Paul & Vince: How did you come to be in New York City in your current career?

Erik: I grew up in a small town outside Lake Placid, New York. My mom and dad had a fly-fishing motel and restaurant called the Hungry Trout. It was a great childhood. But like many LGBTQ people, I struggled in my adolescence, and I was actually hospitalized for a month in a mental health hospital with young people from all over the state — there were victims of gang involvement and drug addiction – and that was the beginning of my political awakening.

And so when I came to New York, the city gave me so much that I decided to go into public service and dedicate myself to doing as much as possible to impact the world while we’re here.

Paul & Vince: And so you worked in politics right away…or how did that happen?

Erik: I’d always known I wanted to live in New York City, but throughout my twenties here, I had a number of different professions. I worked in advertising, graphic design, and real estate. I was getting increasingly into activism and politics in my personal time.

A friend of mine who worked at the City Council called me and said that a job might be available there as the LGBTQ liaison in the community outreach unit. From that job, I worked for Andrew Cuomo for four years and then was my predecessor’s Chief of Staff for City Council Member Corey Johnson. When he had to leave because of term limits, I ran for his seat and got elected in 2021. I took office in January 2022.


Paul & Vince: Interesting. So tell us, what does your typical day look like?

Erik: Well, one of the best parts of my job is that it’s different every day. Every day is filled with hearings or meetings with different agencies, stakeholders, constituents, and nonprofits from all over the district. I can be all over the city and work until around 9 o’clock every night, with events, nighttime meetings, and of course, a lot of community events happen after work hours — community board meetings, charity events, block associations, tenants associations, all kinds of stuff.

Paul & Vince: Do you wear a suit and tie every day?

Erik: Ha! I wear a shirt and tie above the belt, but I usually wear black jeans and sneakers below. I get in a lot of steps around the district! [Laughs]


Paul & Vince: Could you tell us something people don’t realize about your work?

Erik: You know, I think a lot of people don’t realize how accessible elected officials are. If you want to talk to your elected official or meet with your local council member, you probably can. I think people would be surprised that some of the legislation I’ve worked on over my career started as a constituent just submitting it. And we’re always looking for good ideas.

Paul & Vince: What legislation have you worked on that you’re most proud of?

Erik:Some of the legislation I’m most proud of is my bill that will put mental health services in every family homeless shelter in New York City. Right now, only 9 out of 247 family homeless shelters have onsite mental health services. Our bill will require the Department of Homeless Services to provide that for all of them by 2025. And that will tremendously impact the tens of thousands of children and families living in our shelters.


Paul & Vince: It sounds like your schedule is pretty packed, but what are some of your favorite things to do in New York in your spare time?

Erik: There’s nothing like a beautiful day in New York when the weather’s finally nice and everyone is smiling. It reminds you why we live here, because there are many months of the year when the weather’s not good, and it’s dark at four o’clock. So, when the city opens up like that, it reminds you that you would not want to live anywhere else.

I love going to Central Park and just making a day of it. One of my favorite things in Central Park is the summer roller skating with the music. It is incredible, the “ultimate melting pot.” Young, old, black, white, rich, poor, all dancing together. Some couldn’t be more opposite, but they’re all just people having fun together! Just imagine if the whole world was like that, everyone happy of all different shapes and sizes together. And places in New York City can do that.

…and one more, Just For Fun

Paul & Vince: Beautifully said. And now our Just For Fun question. If you could create the most amazing amusement park ride the city has ever seen, without any limits, what would you create?

Erik: Oh boy. Well…you know what would be cool? If we could turn The High Line Park into a lazy river occasionally. [Laughs]

Paul & Vince: Oh, that would be awesome. If they just flooded it for a day.

Erik: Exactly…especially on one of those hot July days…Everyone would be out there on their inner tubes, happy, floating along the West Side, two stories high…

Paul & Vince: That’s a good idea actually. Can you make that happen? Are we allowed to submit that idea as your constituents?

Erik: Absolutely. Let’s do it! [Laughs]

Original artwork by Jolisa Robinson, Gavriani-Falcone Team Marketing

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