Congratulations to Quinn and Mendez

Christine Quinn’s ascendancy to the City Council speakership a week ago is a stunning accomplishment of historic proportions. She is the first woman to occupy the post and perhaps even more significantly the first gay person to be speaker.

The rise to power of this 39-year-old councilmember who represents Hudson Square, Greenwich Village and Chelsea speaks to her skills in building coalitions and working with others. Indeed, we’ve seen many examples of Quinn’s effectiveness and hard work, dating back to her days with Tom Duane as his chief of staff when he was in the City Council.

More recently, she helped push through a new rezoning for Hudson Square and the far West Village and also helped champion new landmarking protections. She also was a key figure in the fight against the misguided West Side stadium. She’s always been a leader on tenants’ rights and housing.

The early word from Councilmember Alan Gerson is that Quinn is looking to help his Lower Manhattan district, which includes the neighborhoods surrounding the World Trade Center site. Having a powerful legislator Downtown in an area that has become so important to the city pays dividends. The best example of this can be seen in Albany where Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continually makes sure rebuilding this community is a top priority.

We think Chris Quinn’s got the right stuff to be an extremely able City Council speaker and we eagerly look forward to how she will help the city.

Another Downtown councilmember, Rosie Mendez, whose district includes the Lower East Side and East Village, is also deserving of our congratulations for her own election, where she succeeds Margarita Lopez, who stepped down in 2006 because of term limits. Mendez has a lot to offer, from her days as a top attorney with Brooklyn Legal Services to her years of community activism on behalf of tenants and others. Not only does she have the experience from being in the trenches on neighborhood issues, but it’s clear that her heart is in the right place. We’re sure she will be a worthy successor to Lopez.

Drawing on the Seaport’s strengths

Fresh winds are blowing off the East River. The serious discussions the Drawing Center is having with the city, General Growth —the Seaport mall’s operator — and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation about moving to the Seaport are uplifting. The move of the Fulton Fish Market to the Bronx last year creates the opportunity to turn the Seaport into the vibrant neighborhood some of us hoped to see 20 years ago when General Growth’s predecessor came on the scene. This internationally respected arts institution should be able to draw visitors to the area in the winter and help attract the retail and restaurants local residents have so desperately wanted.

The recent restoration of historic Front St. buildings by Frank Sciame and partners is another appealing development in this neighborhood and we were happy to report last week that restaurants are getting ready to open in these buildings as Drawing Center talks heat up.


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