Christine Quinn's Race to the Top

The out City Council Speaker of New York has the whole package.


She’s tough. Brusque. Abrasive. Doesn’t connect with people. Or so I’ve learned from some media outlets about City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. However, my encounters with Quinn say otherwise.

Quinn standing by Governor Andrew Cuomo and looking pleased as punch after she’s helped pass marriage equality into New York State law.

Quinn marching in the New York Pride Parade alongside her wife, Kim Cattullo, in the rain, going up to barriers and chatting with folks. (Not in a business suit, not with masses of bodyguards, not brandishing a bullhorn. That would be Anthony Weiner.) “The Pride Parade is one of my favorite events of the year,” she says. “One thousand strong, marching down Fifth Avenue.”

Quinn attending the Bronx Pride Parade (in the city’s toughest borough), on one of the hottest days of this year. “The folks up there work so hard,” she says of the LGBT activists. “They are a critical part of that borough. We want to make sure it gets recognized and embraced.” She felt equally embraced at parades in Brooklyn and Queens.

Quinn’s identity as an out gay woman is essential to her. She’s been out since the beginning of her political career—and boycotted New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade for not allowing her to march as an out lesbian. “I have marched as the openly gay Speaker of the City Council in the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for God’s sake. That this is still a problem in New York City makes no sense at all.”

What does make sense is her refusal to deny who she is. “I am a package deal. I don’t show up one day dressed as an Irish gal and the next day as an Irish lesbian. I am never going to yield or give up until the totality of me, and the totality of every New Yorker, is embraced everywhere in this city.”



And as to the buzz that women and lesbians are abandoning her late in New York City’s mayoral race, “Let me tell you,” she says, “I couldn’t be more gratified by the support I am getting from women and the LGBT community. It’s easy for people to criticize. It’s hard to get things done. I get things done, that’s why I’m getting a great response out there.”

And while she’s a minority herself, she’s ignoring the tactics of other special interest groups and staying focused on the bigger picture. 

“I believe that people want government that delivers for them, that is focused on them and making their lives better. That’s what I’ve done, and that’s meant working with everyone, when I could.” She cites the jobs she brought to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the elimination of thousands of housing violations in the city, and the 4,100 schoolteachers’ jobs she’s saved—even when it meant opposing Mayor Bloomberg. “Now that’s what good government should be about: coming together when you can…always getting it done.” The place where no one can agree and nothing gets done, she says, is Washington. “That’s not what New Yorkers want. With all due respect to my opponents, talk is cheap. Delivering is hard. I’ve delivered and that’s what I am running on.”

Does a woman who can deliver actually intimidate the culture? Quinn isn’t buying it, especially after Hillary Clinton’s “amazing job” as Secretary of State. The message she has for female voters who are sitting on the fence, on the eve of the November 5 mayoral election, is the message she wishes to deliver to all New Yorkers:

“You’re picking a mayor, the mayor of the city of New York, one of the most important jobs in the world. So, before you listen to what people are telling you they want to do, find out what they’ve done for you already. And when you look at my record, you’re going to see fiscally responsible management, protecting core services, and successfully expanding human rights. We’re going to make this city the best place it can be, a place where we have progress for everyone.” 

And if a dude is elected, instead of Quinn?

“I am going to become the next mayor of New York City,” she declares. “I’m never going to bow or break when the future of our families lies in the balance.”


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