Up Close With NYC's Mayoral Candidates: Christine Quinn (D)

by Connor Ryan
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Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn

David Shankbone, wikimedia

Listen this week at 7:40 a.m. and 5 p.m. for profiles of each of the leading candidates, and scroll down for more candidates' profiles.

Quinn began her career on the City Council in 1999, and was later elected Speaker in 2006. The Long Island native entered politics after graduating from Trinity College in 1988. She worked as chief of staff for then-City Councilman Thomas Duane, became the executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project and then served as the head of the Housing Justice Campaign for the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development.

Her campaign has raised more than $9 million in funding -- much more than any other Democratic candidate. The greatest points of contention for her campaign thus far have amounted to her stance on the controversial stop-and-frisk police tactic, her stance on the installation of a marine waste transfer station on the Upper East Side and her close ties to Mayor Bloomberg's third term.

Quinn published a memoir early this summer that contained mostly personal anecdotes about her early struggles with bulimia and alcoholism. Now, she says, she handles stress by drinking Dunkin Donuts, exercising and taking long baths. Quinn lives with her partner in Chelsea. If elected would be New York City's first woman and openly gay mayor.

[AUDIO: Full interview with Christine Quinn]

Education: 
Quinn has said her vision for the future of New York City’s public school system looks different than her own education at an all-girls Catholic high school on Long Island, which she says mostly focused on rote memorization and tests. Aside from the implementation of a Deputy Mayor for Education – a position responsible for coordinating city services available to children, Quinn would extend the school day (until 6 p.m.), cut down on testing time and create an information website aimed at boosting parent engagement.

Safety and Crime Prevention
: Experts say Quinn’s mostly favorable connection to Mayor Bloomberg has injured her campaign as voters see her candidacy as a kind of continuation of the current administration. Quinn has seemed to solidify that connection with her stance on “stop, question and frisk,” as she calls it. While most other candidates believe the police tactic should be abolished, she has made the case for its existence. Quinn has, however, gone against the mayor’s wishes by pushing to create the Inspector General position, which is meant to monitor how police are using the tactic. As mayor, she wants to install 1,000 new mobile surveillance cameras across the city (200 this year), hire 1,600 more police officers over the next three years and expand counterterrorism training to more city agencies, including the M.T.A. and the Department of Sanitation.

Healthcare: 
While Quinn has said she does not support Mayor Bloomberg’s large soda ban, she does have plans to curb the city’s obesity rate. Namely, Quinn would require food marketed to children meet certain nutritional standards, as well as ensure physical education classes are available in every school. She would also like to establish an Office of HIV/AIDS Policy, which will be an office focused on prevention efforts and treating those with HIV/AIDS. “Chris will return the city to its standing as a nationwide leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” the candidate’s policy book says.

Economic Development
: As mayor, Quinn says she would target specific neighborhoods for economic development and create the city’s first regional export council in the hopes of doubling the city’s exports by 2020. She wants to create 2,000 new manufacturing jobs in Sunset Park, as well as take advantage of the city’s many food businesses to create jobs. In terms of technology, Quinn wants to make New York City the “most wired” city by 2018 (mostly by adding more WiFi hotspots and improving existing Internet connections) and appoint a Chief Innovation Officer in City Hall to look for ways officials can use technology to improve services while keeping costs down.

Small Business: 
After passing legislation as City Council Speaker that provided some financial cushion to small businesses rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy, Quinn is looking to foster more small business growth as mayor. She would create a division of city capital that would “act as a backstop for community lenders, empowering them to make bigger loans to new and growing businesses,” her policy book says. For every $2 million in the budget, at least $5 million will go toward small business lending.

Housing, Labor
: Quinn hopes to build 40,00 new middle-income apartments over the next 10 years, provide a rental assistance program for homeless families and ensure no young person in New York City spends the night on the streets. She plans to make sure the city’s budget allows for every runaway and homeless youth has access to a shelter bed. Additionally, Quinn hopes to establish New York City’s first LGBT senior center.

Transportation: 
The big goal of Quinn’s campaign within the realm of city transit is to ensure that no New Yorkers spends longer than one hour commuting within the city by 2023. There are roughly 750,000 “mega commuters,” or people who spend longer than one hour commuting to work, according to Quinn’s policy book. As mayor, she would give New York City control of the M.T.A., expand ferry service to include all five boroughs and launch ten new bus service routes over the next four years. With regard to bicycling, Quinn would add more parking options and reduce the number of pedestrian, cyclist, driver fatalities by 50 percent over the next eight years.

Environment
: Quinn plans on improving the region’s gasoline distribution network by adding storage facilities and storm-proofed refineries. She also hopes to boost the city’s sewer system by adding tools to reduce flooding and upgrade pumping stations. A particularly hot point of contention for Quinn’s campaign has been her full-fledge support for the installation of a marine waste transfer station on the Upper East Side. While many parents, nearby residents and competing candidates argue that the waste station would do more harm than good, Quinn says its opening would combat “environmental racism.”

Post-Sandy Recovery and Rebuilding: 
Better cell phone coverage, stronger power lines and more safeguards to prevent the city’s transportation system from flooding are highlights for the Quinn campaign when it comes to storm prevention. She says it’s important to work with utility companies, like Con Edison, to ensure power plans and substations are better prepared to handle future storms. 

Hunger: 
Despite federal aid, Quinn says too many New York City children go to sleep hungry every night. As mayor, she would mandate “Breakfast in the Classroom” – a program that would allow children in low-income neighborhoods to eat for free. Quinn would also make lunch free for students in need, as well as increase the number of schools that offer free take-home weekend meals.

Social Issues: 
If elected, Quinn would be New York City’s first woman and openly gay mayor. She’s proudly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. She has received the enthusiastic endorsements of popular social figures, including Edie Windsor and Sandra Fluke. But polls indicate many city voters view Quinn as too socially conservative – at least when pitted against her opponents, Bill de Blasio and John Liu.

Other Candidates:
Bill de Blasio (D)
Bill Thompson (D)
John Liu (D)
Anthony Weiner (D)
Joe Lhota (R)
John Catsimatidis (R)
The rest of the field

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