NEW YORK—Democratic mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn has heard her opponents talk. She’s a target at mayoral forums. She has seen the negative tweets, the speeches, and the rallies. With 85 days left until the most anticipated mayoral primary in recent memory, Quinn has one message to her opponents: “Talk is cheap. Voters will decide based on actions.”
Quinn’s delivered a terse, very pointed 22 minute speech at the East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence on Monday morning touting her record as City Council Speaker for the last seven years. The Speaker appeared very focused and firm, offering few smiles and even fewer of her signature laughs.
After issuing a “good morning” to the packed room of press and supporters, including Councilwoman Inez Dickens, Quinn dove right into her speech. She never said her opponents by name, but Quinn defended every criticism from her opponents citing her record, not name calling.
“This is not about what others have done. It is about this moment moving forward and I will stack my record against anyone who is running and quite frankly against anyone who has run,” Quinn said in a post-speech Q&A.
Quinn has stayed away from taking pot shots at her opponents for much of the race, instead sticking to her proposed policies and vision for the future. Her opponents, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, have not done the same, hammering the speaker on issues such as paid sick leave, the controversial East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station, her vote in favor of extended term limits.
“Being the mayor is not about having everyone agree with you, it is about doing what is right for the entire city. Sometimes, with all due respect, some people are going to be unhappy with the mayor’s decision,” Quinn said. “New Yorkers need to know they have someone in this race who has made those decisions and has the strength and toughness going forward.”
Quinn delivered her speech right up the road from the site where the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station, which will house the city’s garbage before being shipped to New Jersey, will be built. She reminded everyone why she fought so hard to have the waste station built in her own neighborhood. “It is a plan that, for the first time in history, said every borough has to take responsibility for its own garbage,” Quinn said.
Opponents of the station have said the location, across the street from Asphalt Green, a 5-acre children’s athletic facility, is the issue. Multiple lawsuits have been filed to stop the facility, but the Army Corps of Engineers gave its green light last summer. Construction began in May and is expected to be complete by 2015.
In one of the rare light moments in her speech, Quinn joked about the criticism, “It meant getting booed at the 92nd Street Y—a sentence I never thought I’d utter,” Quinn said to laughs. “But that is the price of leadership.”
Quinn said the marine transfer station will continue under her because she believes outer boroughs should not suffer a higher burden of potential health consequences by having Manhattan’s trash shipped through their neighborhoods.
Quinn touted she has made tough decisions in the past, and vowed to use that gumption in taking on the challenges the next mayor will face, including budget issues. The city’s union contracts are all expired, leaving a potential $7.8 billion tab for the next mayor to pick up. Quinn gave the most detail about the impending situation to date, having said in the past she would not negotiate contracts in the press.
“That doesn’t mean we need to make the unions the enemy. But it means we can’t cave in to unsustainable demands that would cost the city billions of dollars we simply don’t have,” Quinn said. “We’re going to have to get around the table, and no one is going to get exactly what they want—because that is what negotiation is. But we can and will get to a place that protects our financial future while giving workers the pay and benefits they deserve.”
With less than three months left, Quinn made it very clear she will not stoop to political pontificating until election day. “A record of results, and a vision for the future,” Quinn said. “That is what I have been talking about for the last six months, and it’s what I’ll be talking about all the way to November.”
De Blasio’s campaign issued the following statement after Quinn’s speech: “Speaker Quinn’s accomplishments include giving Mayor Bloomberg a third term, proposing to shower big developers with a billion dollar giveaway, and blocking key progressive legislation for years to placate big business. Bill de Blasio has fought to protect abused kids, expose slum landlords, and invest in education by asking the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes. This election is not a contrast in getting things done—it’s about who you are fighting for.”
In response to Speaker Christine Quinn’s morning speech, former City Council Member and Democratic Mayoral candidate Sal Albanese said, “While Speaker Quinn is right that our opponents are particularly unaccomplished, her record is nothing to write home about.
“We’ve seen Christine Quinn’s New York: term limits overturned, hospitals and schools closed, and legislation watered down. As the city grew more unaffordable for regular New Yorkers, she rolled out the red carpet for plutocrats. Now, they are repaying her loyalty. From real estate developers alone, she’s accepted more than $1.5 million.
“Quinn can brag all she wants about getting the wrong things done. But by September, New Yorkers will know who the real doer is in this race. I authored a real living wage bill. I fought to put more police on the streets. I helped usher in term limits. I sponsored campaign finance reform. And I did it all without selling out my principles or my constituents to the highest bidder.”
Bill Thompson’s campaign for Mayor released the following statement in response to Quinn’s Speech: “Speaker Quinn has sided with rich Manhattan interests at the expense of the working people of the city. But her attacks today won’t solve the challenges facing working New Yorkers. Bill Thompson will stay focused on the leadership we need to fix our schools, keep our city safe, and make the city work for working New Yorkers.”