Justin Brannan

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Justin Brannan
Justin Brannan 2020.jpg
Member of the New York City Council from the 43rd district
Assumed office
January 1, 2018
Preceded byVincent Gentile
Personal details
Born (1978-10-14) October 14, 1978 (age 41)
Brooklyn, New York
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Leigh Jewel Holliday

Justin Lee Brannan (born October 14, 1978) is an American politician and musician. A Democrat, he is the current New York City Councilmember representing Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. A former musician, he was a founding member of the New York City hardcore bands Indecision and Most Precious Blood.

Personal life[edit]

Brannan is an outspoken vegetarian and animal welfare advocate. A Third Degree Master Freemason, Brannan founded the Bay Ridge Democrats, an active Democratic political club based in southwest Brooklyn.[1][2] In 2012 he was named one of the "New York City Rising Stars: 40 Under 40" by City & State newspaper for his work as Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs for New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile.[3]

Brannan is married to artist and educator Leigh Jewel Holliday.[4] The couple were married in the lobby of Bear Stearns where they met as employees.[4] Brannan and Holliday opened a fine art school for children in Bay Ridge called The Art Room.[5]

Brannan attended Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.[6] He studied journalism and mass media at Fordham University and College of Staten Island. He has worked for Bank of New York and Bankers Trust.[citation needed] He later worked as a commercial announcer for WNEW-FM,[7] where he was the de facto shop steward for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.[citation needed] While at WNEW, Brannan represented and defended the interests of his fellow employees and advocated to get all union employees retroactively paid for decades of overtime work on weekends and overnights.[citation needed]


Music career[edit]

Before entering politics, Justin Brannan was a hardcore punk guitarist for the bands Indecision from 1993 to 2000 and Most Precious Blood from 2000 onwards.[6] Both bands were known for their outspoken commitment to social justice and vegetarianism. Though the sound was raw, their messages focused on social justice, human rights, environmentalism, relationships, individuality and espousing straight-edge views against drugs, alcohol and promiscuous sex.[8][9][10]

Indecision is widely known for their song "Hallowed be Thy Name". The song features a lyric ("For Those I Love I Will Sacrifice") wrote by Brannan when he was sixteen years old that fans across the world have turned into a tattoo.[9][11] Most famously, an image of the tattoo was seen on the ribs of a 19-year-old US Army infantryman named Kyle Hockenberry being treated in a medevac helicopter following an explosion that cost him both of his legs and one arm.[12] The photo was taken for a military newspaper and won photographer Laura Rauch an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.[7][12][13][9][14] Brannan also works closely with the 9/11 Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation commemorating the heroes of 9/11 and "Building for America’s Bravest", a program that constructs Smart Homes for military returning home with devastating injuries.

Brannan also founded the deathgrind band Caninus, known for using two dogs as vocalists.

Finance career[edit]

Brannan was a touring punk rock musician before he landed at Bear Stearns,[15] working his way up as a clerk in their wealth management division, [16] and working as a financier[17] in the venture capital space raising money for start-up alternative energy companies based in Silicon Valley. He later worked as a fundraising consultant for a number of non-profit humanitarian organizations in New York City.

Political career[edit]

Brannan served as the Director of Communications and Legislative Affairs for Council member Vincent J. Gentile, representing the 43rd District which includes Bay Ridge, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and portions of Bensonhurst.[4][6]

City Council[edit]

In 2017, Brannan won the Democratic primary to replace Gentile in the 43rd district. Brannan won 39% of the vote in a five-way race, narrowly beating Khader El-Yateem, who garnered 31% of the vote,[18] by 682 votes.[19]

Brannan drew criticism during the campaign for taking money from real estate interests.[20] Contributors to Brannan's campaign include Sal Raziano of the real estate firm Casandra Properties, James Vavas of Vavas Insurance and Financial Services, and Anthony Constantinople of Constantinople & Vallone, a lobbying firm currently under investigation for conflicts of interest and payroll discrepancies surrounding its Sports & Arts program at a Lower East Side public school.[21]

During the campaign, several concerned citizens filed a complaint with the New York City Campaign Finance Board in which they accused Brannan of neglecting to disclose campaign expenses when he failed to alert election regulators that Gentile’s campaign for Brooklyn DA paid the rent for Brannan’s campaign office.[22]

In the general election, Brannan won with 51% of the vote to the Republican candidate, John Quaglione's 47%.


  1. ^ Chris Bragg (September 1, 2011). "Democrats Not Coming Up Golden In Finding Challenger to Brooklyn Senator". City Hall. Archived from the original on November 13, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  2. ^ Wall, Patrick (2011-12-20). "Councilman's Aide in a Santa Suit, Wearing a Punk-Rock Past". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  3. ^ "» RISING STARS: 40 UNDER 40 | City & State". Cityandstateny.com. 2012-10-08. Archived from the original on 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  4. ^ a b c Yee, Vivian (2012-10-22). "Wedded Bliss Trump's Financial Collapse". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  5. ^ Julianne McShane (August 23, 2017). "Our sit-down with Bay Ridge Council candidate Justin Brannan". Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Wall, Patrick (2011-12-21). "From Growls of Punk Rock to the Smooth Talk of Politics - NYTimes.com". New York City: New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  7. ^ a b Romano, Denise (2012-05-29). "Local activist penned now-famous lyrics - Home Reporter News: General". Home Reporter News. Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  8. ^ "Indecision - straight edge or not?". Stuck in the Past. November 2009. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  9. ^ a b c Shapiro, Benjamin (2012-06-07). "Justin Brannan's Lyrics Helped An Afghan War Vet Survive | NOISEY". Noisey. Vice Media. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  10. ^ "Most Precious Blood BIO". Trustkill.com. Archived from the original on 2006-11-09. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  11. ^ Thompson, Mark (2011-09-28). "How a soldier's tattoo came true | TIME.com". Battleland.blogs.time.com. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  12. ^ a b Calder, Rich (2012-06-18). "Wounded GI's prophetic tattoo traced to NYer's lyrics | New York Post". Nypost.com. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  13. ^ Joe Gromelski. "Stars and Stripes reporter Laura Rauch wins SPJ award for photo - News". Stripes. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  14. ^ Paybarah, Azi (2011-09-29). "A story behind a soldier's tattoo". Capital New York. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  15. ^ Angela McKenzie (December 2009). "Justin Brannan of B'nai Zion on Initiative Radio with Angela McKenzie". The AMcK Initiative. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  16. ^ Scott, Amy (2009-03-13). "Bear Stearns employees find their way". Marketplace.org. Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  17. ^ Bloomberg Dec 25, 2009, 03.34am IST (2009-12-25). "Bear Stearns staff look back, party - Economic Times". Articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved 2014-01-14.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Max, Ben. "2017 New York City Primary Election Results". Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  19. ^ "Brannan, Quaglione win Bay Ridge council primaries - Brooklyn Daily Eagle". www.brooklyneagle.com. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  20. ^ "Khader El-Yateem, Man Vs. Machine - The Indypendent". indypendent.org. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Firm linked to de Blasio still lobbying city despite probe". Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  22. ^ "Brooklyn City Council Candidate Accused of Failing to Disclose Campaign Expenses". 26 July 2017. Retrieved 18 October 2017.