PFLAG Awards Luncheon, February 2010
|Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 76th district
June 2007 – December 31, 2013
|Preceded by||Alexander Grannis|
|Succeeded by||Sheldon Silver|
December 5, 1978 |
Morristown, New Jersey, U.S.
|Residence||New York, New York, U.S.|
|Alma mater||New York University|
Micah Z. Kellner (born December 5, 1978) is an American politician from the state of New York. A Democrat, he was formerly a member of the New York State Assembly from the 76th district, which includes Manhattan's Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island (map) serving a term that ended December 31, 2014 when he did not stand for reelection. In September 2013 he lost the primary election for the Democratic nomination for the New York City Council seat for the 5th District by about 1,000 votes to attorney Ben Kallos.
Early life and career
An advocate for the disabled, Kellner was born with cerebral palsy. He attended the Pingry School, graduating in the class of 1997. He graduated from New York University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film, television and radio. He worked as an aide to Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney and City Comptroller William C. Thompson before being elected to the Assembly in 2007.
New York State Assembly
Following the appointment of Assemblyman Alexander "Pete" Grannis as Commissioner of New York State's Department of Environment Conservation early in 2007, Kellner was selected as the Democratic nominee for the special election held to fill the vacancy. In that election, held on June 5, 2007, he received 64% of the vote, comfortably defeating his Republican opponent.
During the 2013-14 term of the Legislature in Albany, Kellner became Chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology and serves on the Committee on Banks, the Committee on Cities, the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, and the Committee on Racing and Wagering. He has advocated for and co-sponsored legislation in the areas of affordable housing, fairer government funding formulas for New York City’s public schools, mass transit and a cleaner environment, reproductive freedom and stem cell research, marriage equality for same-sex couples, the rights of persons with disabilities, and authored laws on pedestrian safety, prescription drug pricing, and the operations of New York State's "Big 11" research libraries. On June 27, 2013, Kellner chaired a hearing on "The Sale of Public Library Buildings in New York City" at which Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Edmund Morris testified against the New York Public Library's controversial Central Library Plan. In July 2013, Kellner challenged Apple Inc. and Google, Inc., to ban the availability of so-called "secret spy applications" from their application marketplaces.
In August 2010, New York State's then-Governor, David Paterson, signed "Elle's Law," legislation introduced by Kellner that allows for the suspension of up to six months of the New York State driver's license of any driver inflcting serious physical injury on another person while committing a traffic violation. The law was named after Elle Vandenberghe, a three-year-old Upper East Side girl living in Kellner's district who was seriously injured after being struck by a motorist who was illegally backing through an intersection against a red light to find a parking space.
Kellner helped lobby the New York City Department of Education to open a new public middle school to alleviate classroom overcrowding on the Manhattan's Upper East Side. The opening of the new middle school was announced in March 2013. He sponsored Oreo's Law[when?] in the New York State Assembly to require the release of a shelter animal to a rescue group upon request of the rescue group prior to euthanasia of the animal. The law is named in memory of Oreo, a dog who survived abuse at the hands of her former owner, recovered from her injuries, but was then euthanized by the ASPCA in New York City, despite the offer of a No Kill sanctuary to guarantee her lifetime care.
City Council Campaign and Allegations of Sexual Harassment
In early 2013, Kellner announced his intentions to run for the New York City Council seat in District 5 being vacated by Jessica Lappin. Initially, he received significant support, being endorsed by most local elected officials. In late June, however, the New York Post reported that he had accepted a campaign contribution from a taxi manufacturer whose handicapped-accessible vehicle was being considered for adoption by New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission.
On July 23, 2013, The New York Times reported that in 2009 Kellner had engaged in inappropriate Internet chat with a young female staffer. Kellner apologized in a statement to the Times, saying, "Over four years ago, for a few weeks while I was still single, I exchanged instant messages with a female member of my staff that were flirtatious. It was inappropriate. I was wrong and it was stupid. When I was told that my staffer felt the messages were unprofessional, I immediately stopped and regretted placing her in that position. I was sorry then and I am sorry now.” The New York Daily News subsequently quoted an anonymous source identified only as a former Kellner staffer saying that Kellner had made life "horrible" for the other staffer after she had allegedly rebuffed his advances.
Following the media reports, several elected officials withdrew their endorsement of Kellner in the City Council race, including Lappin, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and two state senators. The day after the allegations against Kellner were revealed, the National Organization for Women's NYC chapter endorsed one of his two opponents in the Democratic primary for City Council, Benjamin Kallos. The state's ethics commission launched an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Kellner. 32BJ SEIU rescinded its support as well, and endorsed his rival, Benjamin Kallos, who went on to defeat Kellner in the September 10, 2013 primary. On December 31, 2013, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that Kellner should deny the sexual harassment allegations or resign.
State Committee & District Leader
After a rival Democrat political club tried to knock out one of the East Side Democratic Club’s state committeemen in 2014, Kellner offered to step in and run in the competitive Democratic primary while still maintaining his unpaid position as District Leader. Kellner characterized the win as a favor to his club, and not any attempt at a political comeback. Following his overwhelming victory for the obscure, unpaid position, Kellner insisted it was a myth that he was not popular anymore in his district.
In 2015 Kellner was re-nominated by his East Side Democratic Club and ran for re-election as District Leader. The year before, Kellner won by nearly 57 percent of the counted votes in the three-way race for state committeeman. Based off those results, Kellner said his opponent, Adam Roberts, was portraying the election as competitive to try to get press. Roberts said, "[Kellner] is not actively campaigning at all for fear of getting his name out and people remembering why they know him." Kellner disputed this, saying he had been campaigning. He also questioned why the race was even being covered and argued that the race is not newsworthy. Kellner felt confident going into his election saying, "[Roberts] can raise whatever issues he wants to raise – the voters are going to choose... All he can do is try to make this a referendum on me, and people tried to do that last year."
Kellner ultimately wound up losing to Roberts 403 votes to 353. Adam Roberts previously worked for local City Councilman Ben Kallos during and after his campaign against Kellner for city council. Kallos, however did not endorse Roberts in the election.
Kellner is openly bisexual and was the first openly bisexual person elected to the New York State Assembly. His 2007 Assembly campaign won the support of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which provided financial and strategic assistance. In 2010 he received the Brenda Howard Award, which "recognizes an individual or organization whose work on behalf of the LGBT Community best exemplifies the vision, principles and community service of the late bisexual rights activist Brenda Howard, and who serves as a positive and visible role model for the Bisexual Community." He is one of six openly LGBT members of the New York Legislature, alongside Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Daniel O'Donnell, Matthew Titone and Harry Bronson, as well as Senator Brad Hoylman.
- "State Assembly: Micah Z. Kellner (D-WFP), District 65". Capitol Info. Archived from the original on April 4, 2011. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- "Assembly Member Micah Z. Kellner (NY)". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- Hicks, Jonathan P. (June 6, 2007). "Comptroller’s Aide Wins Upper East Side Assembly Seat". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- "Class Notes: 1997, Micah Kellner" (PDF). The Pingry Review. Winter 2008.
- "Assembly District 65, Micah Engel Kellner: Biography". New York State Assembly. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- Mahoney, Joe (June 6, 2007). "Dem notches win in Assembly special elex". New York Daily News.
- Committee Membership
- Micah Z. Kellner Assemblyman: Bills
- Pogrebin, Robin (June 27, 2013). "Critics Prompt New Review of Library Plan". The New York Times.
- Daily News (New York) http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/albany-pol-hangup-spy-phone-apps-article-1.1391974. Missing or empty
- New York City Department of Education to open new middle school at dnainfo.com, March 8, 2013.
- Sulzberger, A.G. (November 19, 2009). "Oreo, Abused Then Euthanized, Inspires Legislation". The New York Times.
- Report of allegations of sexual harassment against Kellner, New York Post, June 2013.
- Coverage of Kellner sexual scandal, New York Times, July 23, 2013.
- Daily News (New York) http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2013/07/micah-kellners-city-council-bid-backing-crumbles-after-sexual-harassment-alleg. Missing or empty
- New York Daily News political blogsite on Kellner scandals
- "Investigation Launched Into Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Assemblyman Micah Kellner". NY1. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- Kellner loses endorsement by 32B-J
- Kallos defeats Kellner, Huffington Post
- Statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
- "'This Isn't Some Comeback': Micah Kellner Wins Another Election". Observer. https://plus.google.com/112242738293247903578/. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
- "Heard Around Town: Running to remain district leader, Kellner downplays contest". www.cityandstateny.com. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
- "Micah Kellner loses district leader post". cityandstateny.com. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
- "NY Assemblymember Kellner Given Brenda Howard Award". BiNet USA News and Updates. February 21, 2009.
- NY Assemblymember Kellner Given Brenda Howard Award February 21, 2009 BiNet USA News and Updates
- Gustafson, Anna Queens PFLAG to honor three in February January 1, 2009 Astoria Times.
- "Special Election Results, 65th Assembly District: June 5, 2007" (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- "General Election Results, State Assembly: November 4, 2008" (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. December 4, 2008. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- "General Election Results, State Assembly: November 2, 2010" (PDF). New York State Board of Elections. December 13, 2010. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- "General Election Results, State Assembly: November 6, 2012" (PDF). New York State Board of Elections.
- New York State Assembly: Micah Kellner
- Campaign website
- Facebook page
- New York Observer archive of Micah Kellner campaign coverage
- Kellner's response to the 2008 Candidate Questionnaire for State Senate and Assembly from the 504 Democratic Club of New York City
|New York Assembly|
Alexander "Pete" Grannis
|New York State Assembly
|New York Assembly|
|New York State Assembly