For Christine Quinn, mayoral campaign is latest in a series of political firsts

Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn on the campaign trail, shaking hands outside a Huey Lewis and the News concert in Coney Island. Credit: Bess Adler
Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn on the campaign trail, shaking hands outside a Huey Lewis and the News concert in Coney Island. Credit: Bess Adler

Christine Quinn is no stranger to firsts.

From her start as the chief of staff to Tom Duane, the first openly gay and openly HIV-positive councilmember, to her current position as the first openly gay City Council Speaker, Quinn’s career has been full of firsts.

And now she’s poised to become the first female and openly gay mayor of New York City — if she can fight her way back to the top of a crowded mayoral race in which she was once seen as the easy frontrunner.

At a campaign stop at Tom’s Diner in Coney Island, a Windsor Terrance woman named Maureen Walsh shyly approached Quinn and said, “I have an 18-year-old daughter who is so excited about you.”

Walsh said this is the first election in which her daughter Maggie will be able to vote.

“She loves that she’s running, she loves Hillary Clinton, she wants to see more women leaders,” Walsh said. “Strong women, you know? That’s a great role model.”

Earlier that day, a new Quinnipiac poll announced Bill de Blasio had strong support from 30 percent of voters critical of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy. Quinn was trailing him at 24 percent.

Quinn dismissed the poll results, saying she was “absolutely not” concerned.

“The one thing in life you can bet your mortgage on is polls go up and down,” she said.

Despite the polls, Quinn is still perceived by some supporters, including Coney Island’s feisty Greek Orthodox priest Eugene Pappas, as “the most viable candidate.”

Her gender, as well as her sexuality, was also noted by Pappas, who had earlier been photographed holding a Quinn campaign sign and shouting, “She’s got God on her side, baby!”

“Her gay background is not to be overlooked,” Pappas said. “There’s a great percentage of people in the city who look to her for leadership and identity.”

In light of a recent spate of violent anti-gay attacks, the latest of which occurred just last week in Chelsea, on a street where Quinn once lived, the prospect of a gay mayor seems particularly meaningful.

Quinn rejected the notion that the attacks might indicate the city isn’t ready to be led by a gay woman.

“The folks that have committed these crimes, they’re all horrible,” Quinn said. “They’re not New York, and we can’t for one second let them think they are New York. They don’t speak for us. They don’t represent the values of this city.”

Some have accused Quinn of not representing the values of the city, particularly in her role in overturning term limits in 2008 — enabling Bloomberg, several other city officials and herself to all be elected to third terms.

“I made a decision I knew was going to be unpopular, but I did it because I thought it was going to be the right thing,” she insisted. “And I think what you want in a leader is somebody who’s going to stand up and make a decision even if you think it’s going to be unpopular.”

Quinn, often seen as the savvy political strategist of the race, particularly in contrast to de Blasio, who has positioned himself as the most progressive choice, insisted she has often fought against the political grain, highlighting instances when she and Bloomberg have butted heads.

She said that Bloomberg’s homeless policies are especially egregious, and that the Department of Homeless Services is one city agency that will require “a big overhaul.”

But she argued many of the agreements she’s negotiated with Bloomberg have saved the city from potentially dire consequences.

“In the first three years I was Speaker,” she said, “the mayor and I took $8 billion in prepaid bills and put $3 billion in a rainy day fund.”

More than 12 hours after her first campaign appearance of the day on the morning news show Morning Joe, Quinn was working the line at a Huey Lewis and the News concert in Coney Island.

“Ms. Quinn, when you win, vote from your heart, okay?” urged a man in a hat and sunglasses. Quinn nodded.

“It’s serious,” he pressed, as an older man in a hat shaking Quinn’s hand mused, “You look nicer in person.”

“You wanna know what else?” shouted a man with a graying beard further down the line. Quinn turned inquiringly. “You’re so much prettier than Weiner.”

Quinn burst out laughing.

“Let’s set a higher bar!” she declared.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A MAYOR CHRISTINE QUINN

  • Hailing the Cornell Tech campus coming to Roosevelt Island as a sign of the growing tech industry in the city, Quinn maintained the importance of making sure new tech jobs go to New Yorkers, and vowed to build on employment initiatives such as the Technical Apprenticeship Program that the City Council developed with CUNY: “It’s fabulous Cornell is coming, but I’m not going to lose sleep over that Cornell class, they’re gonna be fine. So let’s make CUNY into a pipeline for those tech jobs.”
  • Quinn said she would create a deputy mayor for children and education to facilitate better communication and collaboration between the various agencies that work with children in need — Department of Education, Department of Youth and Community Development, Administration for Children’s Services — to enable a more holistic approach to meeting the needs of the city’s most vulnerable.
  • Pushing for a “big overhaul” of the Department of Homeless Services, Quinn said she will “immediately” instate a system of rent subsidy vouchers for the homeless to get out of the shelter system and into apartments. She also advocated setting aside public housing units and Section 8 vouchers for the homeless.
  • Quinn wants to employ former gang members in city government to do outreach in violence-prone communities. The idea is inspired by a former gang member she met at the National Action Network named Keith: “I want to make sure we have guys like Keith working for the city. Imagine if he goes up to a kid and says, ‘the mayor sent me — and not to arrest you.’”
  • Companies in the South Bronx are retrofitting trucks to meet federal “green” regulations by 2018. Quinn proposed opening a technical high school in the Bronx to teach people how to be green mechanics — a job she says has a starting salary of 30 to 40 dollars an hour: “It’s a great way to help folks get into the middle class.”
  • Christine Quinn would also drop city appeals for Stop-and-frisk and the big soda-ban.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.