New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn officially announced her campaign for mayor yesterday by touring one neighborhood in each of the five boroughs, an Ed Koch-esque attempt to introduce herself to voters and highlight some of her accomplishments, as well as showcase her outsized personality.
Quinn’s campaign was officially announced a couple of hours before the five borough “Walk and Talk” tour began with a five-minute video posted on her campaign website of Quinn sitting in Moonstruck Diner in Chelsea giving a brief snapshot of her upbringing, family life and political and legislative victories over her tenure in the City Council, including passing seven on-time budgets and prevailing and living wage bills. In the video, Quinn emphasized helping the middle class become upwardly mobile, a theme that she would repeat throughout the day while shuttling between boroughs.
“Today I’m announcing, making it official, that I’m running for mayor of the city of New York,” Quinn says in the video. “I’m running for mayor because I love this city, it is the greatest place in the world. It’s the place that my grandparents came to from Ireland. They came here because they heard magical things could happen here, that their family could make their way out of poverty and be in the middle class.”
At her first stop in Inwood, in upper Manhattan, Quinn rounded the corner flanked by a group of supporters carrying “Quinn For New York” signs, as well as members of her family, including her wife, Kim Catullo, father, Lawrence, sister, Ellen, and several grand-nieces and nephews. In her announcement, Quinn largely repeated the talking points from the web video, and offered some additional family anecdotes, such as the fact that her grandmother was a survivor of the Titanic. After her remarks, Quinn was asked about some comments made in the video about rising above public criticism, perhaps a subtle shot at her Democratic rivals who have placed a bullseye of sorts on Quinn for her close alliance with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“I don’t want to waste a lot of time talking about everything that’s wrong, talking about how you can’t fix this, talking about how terrible everything is, I want to get things done, and I want to fix this,” she said. “When we hear a problem, let’s not stand around and dwell on the problem and criticize about what may or may not have caused the problem, let’s get to the solution.”
Quinn’s “Walk and Talk” tour was advertised as an attempt to listen to what problems voters around the city would like to see solved, but it was also carefully choreographed, old-fashioned retail politics; an attempt to become more than just a face and a name emblazoned on campaign literature. Indeed, Quinn’s affable personality was on full display, her unmistakable cackle announcing her presence as she made her way down commercial corridors in Foxhurst in the Bronx, Forest Hills in Queens, Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn.
Quinn went out of her way to shake as many hands as possible, actively seeking out men, women and children as they filed by the scrum of press and supporters that surrounded her. In Inwood she said hello to men sitting solemnly on park benches, even rebuffing one man’s request for any change or money on her person. In Foxhurst, Quinn quizzed small business owners on the success of their establishments, and encouraged feedback through her campaign website. At one point, a BX5 bus driver stopped his bus to greet her, with Quinn quickly hopping on board to shake his hand before leaving, saying, “I don’t want to make you late”.
“That’s alright, I’ll be late for you,” the driver, William Adams, replied. “You have a great day!”
In Forest Hills, Quinn shared a touching moment with a young autistic girl and her mother, with the girl asking Quinn what policies she would put in place to make things easier for children with her disability. Quinn said that she would strongly encourage parent-teacher collaboration in dealing with autistic children, with the mother nodding her head in agreement.
But Quinn also encountered her first disillusioned voter in Queens, when an elderly man, Herbert Goldman, shouted her down while taking questions from the press, about her successful push in 2008 to overturn term limits, the political albatross around Quinn’s neck as far as many of her detractors are concerned.
“How do you feel about our vote?” Goldman asked Quinn, after he had sternly told Quinn to drop his hand while holding it after a handshake, speaking of the fact that he voted twice for term limits. “You don’t give a damn about our election votes.”
“That’s not true,” Quinn responded. “I made a decision at that moment with many of the Council to give voters the opportunity during the worst economic crisis we’ve had to either keep some of us, or not keep others and that’s what happened. I respect that for some New Yorkers the decision I made will make it impossible for you to vote for me as mayor, and I respect that.”
Spoken like a true politician, and one that despite her positive polling numbers thus far still has some voters to convince from now until the primary election in September.
Tags: 2013 Mayoral Race, autism, Bed-Stuy, campaign announcement, Christine Quinn, Democratic mayoral candidates, Forest Hills, Foxhurst, Inwood, Kim Catullo, Lawrence Quinn, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Staten Island, Term Limits, walk and talk tour