Christine Quinn is not a perfect candidate. So what? When was the last time anyone found a perfect candidate for any office? But Quinn is the best candidate running for mayor of New York because she has proven she has the toughness and the right experience to get things done and that isn’t easy in New York.
There are those that hold a grudge because of her Council vote that made it possible for Michael Bloomberg to run for a third term. But what people ignore is that it was the voters who gave Bloomberg a third term even if they now have buyer’s remorse. Yes he bought the race with more than $90 million of his own money and won by only 5 percent but he won at the ballot box. That can’t be blamed on Christine Quinn and that was four years ago and it’s time to get over it.
New York has always been a tough place to govern and, as a New Yorker who spent many years in politics there, it is something I can personally vouch for. Many like me found ourselves supporting candidates with whom we didn’t always agree. The perfect progressive can’t win citywide in New York because the city is made up of five boroughs each with a different electorate and differing needs.
There are issues that faced the Council where Quinn didn’t come around fast enough but she understood that in the long run she had to bring a majority along to win. In New York, over the years, issues like minimum wage, rent control or sick leave often had to go to the brink before compromises were reached. Having served as coordinator of local government under Mayor Abe Beame, some characterize me as a Tammany Hall Democrat. But like many politicians in New York, that is only half of the picture. I knew and had dinners with Carmine DeSapio and Frank Rossetti but also began the Heights Young Reform Democrats to support Congressman Bill Ryan and then worked for Bella S. Abzug (hard to get more progressive than that).
New York has the chance to make history by electing its first woman mayor and first lesbian mayor. I supported Abzug when she ran for mayor in 1977 and one of the reasons she lost was her unstinting progressive union stance. She called for the police to have the right to strike a few days before the 1977 blackout and all the looting that followed. That in essence ended her chance to be mayor.
Quinn in many ways is much more prepared and ready to be mayor than Abzug was. And I believe she is more interested in the job. Abzug was much more involved and interested in national issues than she was in getting the garbage picked up. She actually told that to a voter while campaigning in Washington Heights during the 1976 Senate primary, which Pat Moynihan won. A voter complained about the dirty streets and Bella looked at her and said, “I have much more important things to work on like war and peace, go talk to the mayor, he deals with little stuff like that.”
Quinn has a record of accomplishments she can be proud of and what she shares with Bella is the intelligence and chutzpah needed to lead in New York.
Christine Quinn can be a powerful voice across the nation for both women’s rights and LGBT rights if she is given the chance. She will have more of a platform and influence greater than any other candidate running simply because she is a woman and a lesbian and she can use it for the people of the city. The time is now to give her that chance and I urge New Yorkers to forgive her some mistakes and acknowledge that while she may not be perfect she is right for New York today and she is the best candidate to lead the city into the future.