When New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced her mayoral bid on Sunday, it became clear that New York City might make history — if elected, Quinn would be the first woman and openly gay mayor.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Quinn is the current frontrunner with 37 percent of the Democratic vote. With rhetoric based on making New York City an affordable place to live for the middle class, the high-profile Quinn is basing her bid on a series of progressive bills she has fought to pass during her time as speaker.
“I’m about getting things done,” Quinn said in the video announcing her candidacy, posted to her official YouTube page on March 10. “I’m proud that as speaker, I’ve passed seven on-time, balanced budgets. I’ve kept firehouses open [and] prevented the layoff of 4,100 school teachers … I’ve passed prevailing and living-wage laws.”
As speaker, Quinn has repeatedly tackled the issue of education. She fought to make kindergarten mandatory throughout New York City, and she launched the Middle School Task Force, designed to improve New York City’s secondary education.
Steinhardt education professor Pedro Noguera has had personal experience collaborating with Quinn.
“I worked with Quinn while serving as the chair of the Middle School Task Force that she created,” Noguera said. “She is a dynamic and genuine leader.”
Noguera also highlighted the speaker’s dedication to the plight of immigrants, which has included fighting against unnecessary deportations of immigrant workers.
“Her concern for the rights of immigrants runs deep, and I believe that if she were the mayor she would work closely with immigrant rights advocacy groups to protect the rights of immigrants,” Noguera said.
Quinn, now 46 years old and married to her partner Kim Catullo, was born in Glen Clove, N.Y. Before her position as speaker, Quinn ran the Housing Justice Campaign and was the head of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, an LGBT-oriented group that seeks to end violence and empower the gay community.
María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, the director of gender and sexuality studies at NYU, stated that an openly gay mayor would modernize the city.
“It will be wonderful to have an advocate for LGBTQ rights as mayor,” Saldaña-Portillo said. “We would be catching up with Mexico City, Quito and other global leaders that are at the forefront of efforts of insuring the health, safety and well being of the LGBTQ community.”
Steinhardt freshman Stella Boonshoft, who is studying gender and sexuality studies, acknowledged the barriers Quinn would face as the city’s first female and openly gay mayor.
“I’m prepared for the extreme scrutiny she will face both locally and nationally,” Boonshoft said. “Not being straight, white and male is still very difficult in politics.”
Still, CAS senior and politics major Issela Palacios was confident in Quinn’s chances of winning the November election.
“Her efforts to prevent immigrants with no history of criminal activity from being handed over to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] as well as her green initiatives are among the various platforms that have endeared her to many of the city’s residents,” Palacios said.
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