City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, widely seen as a likely frontrunner in this year’s Democratic primary for mayor, launched her campaign on Sunday with a “walk and talk” tour of the five boroughs and promised to visit all the city’s diverse neighborhoods before the vote.
“Tell me what you want City Hall to do, show me the hidden treasures of your neighborhood,” Quinn said.
Quinn became the city’s first female and first openly gay speaker in 2006 and would establish the same landmark if she is elected to succeed Michael Bloomberg in November.
A strong supporter of Israel, she traveled there with the Jewish Community Relations Council three times as speaker , most recently in February, 2012, and once as a City Council member. She has also maintained good relationships with the city’s Jewish communities and their organized representatives by safeguarding social service programs relied on by the poor and elderly. In 2007, she sponsored a Day Out Against Hate in response to a rise in bias crimes, which included an event at Queensborough Community College with Holocaust Survivors.
In a video kicking off her campaign, the 46-year-old Glen Cove, L.I., native cited her parents as role models, noting that her father was a union representative for electrical workers and her mother, a Catholic Charities social worker, bravely fought cancer for a decade before succumbing when Christine was 16. Citing their example, she tearfully said she would fight for other people and remember the “obligation is to use every moment on earth to make it a better place and make sure no one is left behind because they need a little more help.”
Quinn added “I’m not about talking and finger pointing and complaining. I’m about getting things done.”
Quinn faces a crowded field likely to include Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu and former Comptroller William C. Thompson. She faces an advantage in having a high profile job and may be most likely to win the backing of Bloomberg. But she will also face criticism from fellow Democrats that she was too cozy with the former Republican (now independent) and that she presided over a system in which city funds were funneled to phantom organizations for a slush fund that went to nonprofits favored by Council members; 25 percent of those were in Quinn’s district.
Members of the city’s Orthodox community, a coveted voting bloc, have indicated that their opposition to marriage equality and other gay rights issues do not preclude supporting Quinn for mayor, and the fact that same-sex marriage is already legal in New York may further remove the issue from the campaign.
During her tour of the city Sunday, Ezra Friedlander, a chasidic political consultant, met with Quinn to express his support, along with Yidel Pearlstein, chairman of Community Board 12 in Borough Park.
“I support someone based on what the city charter calls for: who will be able to govern in the realm of public safety and managing the economy,” Friedlander said in an interview Monday.
The Jewish Week spoke with Quinn about her trip to Israel and other issues related to her job in this 2010 interview.