The dog days of campaign season are beginning to set in and the patrons at W’s in Tottenville are already feeling mayoral race fatigue. Christine Quinn? A name with little significance in these parts. Anthony Weiner? An energized presence in the race but more famous for his infidelities than his accomplishments. John Liu? Bill de Blasio? Practically anonymous in these far reaches of the borough.
“We need a candidate, but it’s too early,” said Patrick, a tanned, burly retired firefighter enjoying an evening drink with his wife and some friends.
Patrick encapsulates W’s political profile: a former city employee, anti-Bloomberg, a registered Republican but not beholden to his party. Career politicians like Quinn and Weiner turn him off. Former mayor Ed Koch and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with their gift for gab and endearing personalities, are the standard to which Patrick holds all other politicians.
“Chris Christie, I wish he could run,” Patrick said. “He would cut through all the [nonsense] and just get stuff done.”
Alas, Christie seems to be preparing for a more high stakes election in the coming years. But what of Weiner, the resurgent former congressman suddenly back in the public eye after leaving office in ignominious fashion? Patrick, a resident of Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, actually has fond memories of Weiner as their former congressional representative, but not enough that he’ll be casting a ballot for him in September. Patrick’s wife, Gina, on the other hand would consider holding her nose and voting for Weiner, despite being somewhat repulsed by his checkered past.
“Everybody makes mistakes, but he did a lot of good things for Gerritsen Beach,” Gina said. “I’m not a fan of what he did, but I would consider voting for him.”
Gina, a retired police officer, is less critical of the leading candidates than her husband, parsing their good qualities from the bad. Quinn, she says, is “very liberal” for her taste and the City Council Speaker’s brash, domineering personality rubs her the wrong way. But on a purely symbolic level, she recognizes what a Quinn victory would mean to her family.
“It has nothing to do with her sexual preference, our son is gay,” Gina revealed. “In that sense, I would love [if Quinn got elected] for him. I would love it for everybody. Everybody should be able to do what they want, every state should be that way.”
WIth a unique perspective having worked both for the city and been members of large unions, Patrick and Gina did not shy away from a topic getting a lot of attention of late: the glaring lack of a contract for all of the municipal unions. Patrick believes the relationship between the unions and the city is overly politicized. Not one to buck the company line, he stayed in lockstep with the firefighters union in supporting Bloomberg, eventually receiving a four percent raise before he retired in 2005.
Gina, on the other hand, took notice of how the city treated her much larger union, noting that they had to sit on the sidelines and wait to get a raise after choosing not to support Bloomberg in the 2005 election. She doesn’t foresee the current contract stalemate being resolved swiftly.
“[The contracts] are a big bargaining chip. [The city] always wants you to give back something and they won’t give you anything in return,” she said. “Who ever takes over is gonna be screwed because [Bloomberg] screwed them and left them with debt and now they’re not going to get a contract.”
Having overheard the conversation, a friend of Patrick and Gina’s chimed in, “if you’re looking for a story about politics, I got a story for you. I work for the [city Department of Education].”
This slender, fast-talking, middle-aged woman declined to be named in this article for fear that she might lose her job, but disclosed that the upper management at the Department tried to muzzle its employees and discourage them from speaking out in favor of the school bus drivers when they went on strike several months ago.
“The New York City [Department of Education] is a bunch of politics [nonsense],” she said. “During the bus strike, a lot of stuff should have been out there about [DOE employees] backing them, but they wanted us to appear in support of the parents, so we had to keep our mouth shut.”
She added that the pressure from “above” in the department is unbearable at times and the possibility of a new administration is enticing. However, despite her disdain for Bloomberg, the woman, a Brooklyn native, said she had not yet taken the time to decide which candidate she liked.
“I might vote for Weiner,” she said, “I hate when people resign for something that has absolutely nothing to do with their job.”
One thing’s for sure, Quinn won’t be getting her vote, but in this case it has nothing to do with Quinn’s third term vote or her alliance with Bloomberg.
“I don’t like a woman in charge. We’re bitches.”
Tags: Anthony Weiner, Bill De Blasio, Chris Christie, Ed Koch, Five Borough Ballot, Gerritsen Beach, John Liu, Michael Bloomberg, New York City Department of Education, Nick Powell, Staten Island, Tottenville, W's