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Christine Quinn and other pols share thoughts on 12 years in office

Mayor Michael Bloomberg always jokes about his inner countdown clock and the days he has left in his twelve-year run. However, he isn't the only New York City elected official leaving office on Dec. 31 after three terms.

There are 17 City Council members and borough presidents who have been on the job since 2002 and will have to vacate their offices due to term limits. Many of those leaders said they were honored to be re-elected for those terms and reflected about their tenure with amNewYork as they plan for the future.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

Quinn, 47, was elected to represent the 3rd district in Manhattan in 1999 in a special election following her predecessor Thomas Duane's election to the state senate. Two years later, she won her first full term and in 2006 became the first female and first openly gay speaker of the City Council.

Quinn said she felt honored to have inspired both women and LGBT New Yorkers who yearned for a major voice at the table and that she always prioritized the interests of all New Yorkers.

"You get up every day and do your job and don't think I'm the first this or that," she said.

Quinn said she's proud of improving the quality of life for her constituents by pushing for improved housing laws.

"In my time as speaker I wanted the city to be a greener place, where tenants have a better place," she said.

The speaker added that she was pleased to lead the Council at a time when the LGBT movement experienced a new renaissance throughout the nation.

Quinn wouldn't reveal her next political move.

She said she has no regrets about her time in office, even if she didn't get a chance to lead the city as mayor, and left a simple piece of advice for her successor: Work hard and have fun.

"The power of local government is tremendous. When people try to drive to a consensus, you can get amazing things done," she said.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.

The second-generation councilman has represented Astoria since 2002. He's been the chair of the Council's Public Safety Committee. Vallone Jr., 52, said assuming that position right after 9/11 was daunting.

"I came into office after watching my father [Peter Vallone Sr.) make a difference in the neighborhood, thinking I was going to improve our parks, and schools and potholes and everything a public servant has to do. I never thought my first hearing would be an oversight for the massive anti-terror operation," he said.

In the end, Vallone said he is proud that the council and NYPD were able to bring crime down 35% during his tenure. The councilmansaid he will continue to be active in government and community issues but didn't have anything official lined up.

"I have no idea," he said when asked what his next job will be. "I'm considering my options."

Anyone looking to get updates on how Vallone's doing can check out his Facebook and Twitter accounts, which he promises will remain active. Vallone said he hopes his work will inspire more New Yorkers to be active in public service.

"When I was in 4th grade, I had no idea who our city councilman was and it was my own dad! The fact that kids know who I am means they will one day think about going into politics," he said.

City Councilwoman Gale Brewer

Brewer, who will assume the role of Manhattan Borough President, entered the Council in 2002 to represent the Upper West Side. The 62-year-old said she is especially proud of her work as the chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations.

Brewer said she has always ensured that she and her staff answered every call, e-mail and request that came through her office.

"You have to be extremely responsive. They know when you are responding, they hear what you say and read what you write," she said.

Brewer pushed and helped pass a law this year mandating that all of the city's public data go online. Several agencies, such as the health department and NYPD, have already begun creating interactive websites that share their data. More are on the way.

Brewer said she has some regrets. The housing crisis in particular took the Council by storm and she said she didn't have enough resources to help the thousands of New Yorkers who lost their homes and businesses.

"I wish we could have done more there. We just didn't see it coming," she said.

Brewer advised her successor, Helen Rosenthal, to continue that tradition of transparency.

"We always advocate for our constituents and do our best to listen to their needs," she said.

Borough President Marty Markowitz

Exiting a job that he's wanted since he was a teen is no easy task for Markowitz, but the 68-year-old said he's proud that his hometown borough has become the hot spot for new New Yorkers.

During Markowitz's 12-year tenure, the borough gained a cruise ship port, hundreds of new homes, a basketball team and even a starship captain, Sir Patrick Stewart.

"I promised Brooklyn would be celebrated around the country and around the world. I"m happy to say this happened," Markowitz said.

The borough president said his first goal when he assumed office was to make people aware that he was their advocate and that he could help turn their neighborhoods around. Markowitz said he was upset with many of the popular depictions of Brooklyn as either boring, crime ridden or old fashioned.

He said he welcomed the thousands of young professionals and families that have changed the shape of neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, Bushwick and Park Slope.

"They breathe life into our borough. That is a world of change," Markowitz said.

The borough president's tenure has been hit with some controversies, including his battle with Prospect Heights residents who protested the Atlantic Yards development plans. Markowitz acknowledged their concerns but said that the disagreements are all part of democracy.

"In my profession you have to take the stones thrown at you. You can't make everyone happy, but you try to make them happy," he said.

Markowitz said if it weren't for term limits, he'd remain in officeand that he was proud of his tenure overall.

"Overwhelmingly I've loved it. It doesn't mean it's not been bumpy. It has been. Everyone makes mistakes, but I've done my best with what I've got," he said.

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