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Mayoral Candidate Touts Past Problems in New Book

Mayoral Candidate Touts Past Problems in New Book
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Can this memoir extend beyond campaign as message of empowerment?

Candidates are shaking hands, sparring in debates and privately strategizing with campaign bases as the Democratic primary for New York City's mayoral race looms only three months away.

But perhaps most importantly, the candidates are striving to root their name at the forefront of voters' minds.

Christine Quinn, City Council Speaker and leading Democrat, is hoping her new memoir — “With Patience and Fortitude,” which is scheduled to be published on June 11 — will do just that. (The title is a reference to the twin marble lions that sit outside the New York Public Library.)

Despite Quinn’s declaration that the book’s content, which details her past struggles with bulimia and alcoholism, is “oddly nonpolitical,” experts say the timeframe of the book’s release should not be ignored.

“At the most basic level, we’re talking about an election campaign that’s ongoing,” Robert Shapiro, a professor of political science at Columbia University, said by telephone. “A lot of voters haven’t paid a lot of attention to it, a lot of people haven’t made up their minds yet and what she wants to do it basically get her name out there in the most visible and positive way possible and the book has the potential of doing that.”

Shapiro says it was a smart move by Quinn's team to initiate the conversation about her past struggles.

“[Alcohol] is certainly something that she would want to get out in front of and be able to describe and explain in her own way, rather than have to respond to it later in the context of any political criticisms that occur,” Shapiro said.

Christina Greer, an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, says that despite the memoir’s content, this book will get Quinn's name into the voting populous.

“Name recognition is always great,” Greer said. “Even if the book says things that upset people, they’re still talking about it and we know that the turn out in New York City for local politics is dismal. For many people, if they even decide to vote in the primaries, they’re going in with very little information.”

But may the book do some good beyond Quinn’s campaign?

Dr. William Skerker, the director of a free monthly workshop in New York City for those who suffer from eating disorders, hopes the book may serve as a beacon of hope and recovery.

“I’d like to see her be a paradigm for strength and for fortitude in the presence of both trauma and what [Quinn] might see as personal weakness,” Skerker said.

Katie Campisano, a New Yorker who says she has struggled with alcohol and drug addiction in the past, is optimistic that Quinn’s book may extend beyond politics and actually help those in need.

“There is so much potential here for Quinn to reach people, especially women, who experience the same addictions and have experienced the same losses and trauma that she has,” she said in an email.

But as someone who has overcome similar difficulties, Campisano hopes that Quinn avoids the political talking points often heard in a prepared statement and instead discusses an accurate and realistic message of recovery.

“In Quinn speaking publicly about this stuff, though, I think it's important for her to be real, and to validate how addiction is a real problem, but can be overcome with the right tools,” she said.

Campisano says she plans to read the book when it is released.