A tough choice for mayor

Christine Quinn
Christine Quinn

After 12 years under Mayor Bloomberg — the last four of those only thanks to a controversial, legislative extension of term limits — the city is set to elect a new mayor.

The Sept. 10 Democratic primary field has two candidates who seem most qualified to run the city — Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio.
We have thought long about this, and reaching a decision has not been easy. To be completely honest, we have gone back and forth on the question.

We’ve known Quinn since she was then-Councilmember Tom Duane’s chief of staff, going on to head the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and then to win Duane’s seat in a special election in 1999 after he moved up to the state Senate. Her ascent to power has been dazzling and swift. She’s hard-working, smart, tough, and she would hit the ground running, no question.

De Blasio’s commitment to education, particularly pre-K and afterschool programs, is admirable and we think is realistic, despite the naysayers.
New York City’s income tax is essentially flat so taxing the rich a little more to pay for education should be a heavy, but doable lift in Albany.

His compassionate message of “two cities” has resonated with us and many voters. And having a mayor with a child in the public school system would send a powerful message to parents.

We’ve also had our criticisms of Quinn over the years. She has not been enough of a foil to the mayor. In some ways that has been good for the city, but in others, it represented a sorely absent check on executive powers.

She did not look hard enough for an alternative site to limit the oversized garbage truck garage in Hudson Square.

She has been too cozy with developers at the South Street Seaport, too onboard with the Bloomberg administration’s overzealous development and may not have worked hard enough to scale back N.Y.U.’s expansion.

Her criticisms of excessive stop-and-frisks are difficult to square with her full-throated support for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who has an impressive anti-crime record despite this program, we think, not because of it.

Her support for the term limit extension five years ago of course benefitted Bloomberg, but it also helped her. She is much better positioned to be mayor now than she would have been four years ago.

Although the term limit vote has always troubled us, we made it clear four years ago that it was not a “mortal sin” politically, and that she and others should be considered if they were legally on the ballot.

We do love de Blasio’s approach and thoughtfulness, and think he is much more grounded in the real world than his critics believe him to be. But for us, the bottom line is we don’t see a strong enough record of achievement.

As for Quinn, we are confident she can run the city, as she has helped do since 2006 as the city’s number-two official. She knows how to get things done.

She also understands the city’s budget process, and is an experienced hand who can run the difficult labor negotiations to come. Figuring out how to pay for retroactive raises, health care costs and pension benefits are issues to consume the next mayor.

Quinn’s candidacy is historic, in that, not only is she a woman, but she is the first openly gay person to make a serious run for mayor. Those are not the reasons to support her, but they are inspiring and noteworthy nonetheless.

She also has a local record of achievement, for instance, helping secure a new school building at 75 Morton St. for a much-needed middle school.
Downtown Express endorses Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary for mayor.

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