NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has made it official — she is running for mayor.
The council speaker formally hit the campaign trail Sunday morning with a walking tour across the five boroughs that began in Inwood.
Quinn has ties to Inwood, where she said her Irish immigrant grandparents settled when they arrived in New York.
As CBS 2’s Amy Dardashtian reported, she made her official announcement in front of the church in Inwood where her parents married, with her own wife Kim standing beside her.
“Today, I am officially announcing that I’m running to be the mayor of the great city of New York,” she said.
During the walking tour that followed, Quinn underscored key points of her campaign.
“The middle class is squeezed in New York but I know I’m the best person working with all of New York’s 8.4 million people to make this happen,” Quinn said on the first leg of the walk-and-talk tour. “I need to go out there today and every day and prove to New Yorkers that I can be the best person to work with them.”
Quinn finally announced what many had speculated was inevitable in a five-minute-long video posted on her Twitter account.
“Today I’m announcing, making it official, that I’m running for mayor of the city of New York,” Quinn said in the video. “I’m running for mayor because I love this city. It is the greatest place in the world.”
The video was posted to Twitter at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
WATCH THE ANNOUNCEMENT HERE:
Quinn touted her record in the video, noting she has passed seven on-time budgets and has worked with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to enact measures to protect a woman’s right to choose, among other issues.
“I’m about keeping New York City a place for the middle class to live and grow and a place that’s going to help all of those hard-working people get into the middle class,” Quinn said in the online video.
A former tenant organizer and director of a gay and lesbian advocacy group, Quinn, 46, has been on the City Council since 1999 and its leader since 2006. The position has afforded her considerable exposure going into the crowded field of candidates vying to succeed term-limited Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 6 to 1 in the city, though that hasn’t translated into Democratic success in a mayor’s race since 1989.
Quinn has generally been perceived as likely to get the Republican-turned-independent Bloomberg’s backing, and with it support from business leaders.
Some of her Democratic opponents have tried to use that against her, suggesting Quinn is too close to a mayor they say has sometimes turned a cold shoulder to the concerns of middle-class and working-class New Yorkers. Opponents have faulted her, for example, for joining Bloomberg in opposing a plan to require businesses with at least five employees to provide paid sick leave. Quinn has said it’s a worthy goal, but now is not the economic time to do it.
She also has taken heat for helping Bloomberg get the council to agree to extend term limits so he could run for a third time in 2008, without asking the voters who had approved a two-term limit twice in the 1990s.
As WCBS 880′s Monica Miller reported, residents in Inwood questioned her on the issue on Sunday.
“The term limits decision was a decision that I made with many of my colleagues at a moment in time when we were facing the worst economic crisis this city had seen since the Great Depression,” Quinn said.
“I thought in that moment it was fair to give New Yorkers the opportunity if they chose to send elected officials back or not,” Quinn added in defending her decision.
One of Quinn’s Democratic opponents in the mayoral race – Public Advocate Bill de Blasio – was on the campaign trail Sunday too, announcing the launch of a women’s committee.
“Let’s get together and womanize,” de Blasio said.
The committee will be led by openly lesbian “Sex and the City” star and mother Cynthia Nixon. But on the streets of Inwood, Carol Mulligan said Quinn has her support – politics aside.
“I think she’s smart, but she’s also a woman, and I think it’s time,” Mulligan said.
New York City has never had a woman mayor. The largest U.S. city to elect a woman mayor is Chicago, where Jane Byrne served as chief executive from 1979 until 1983.
If elected, Quinn would be not only the first woman, but also the first openly gay person to serve as mayor of New York.
In office, Quinn leads 50 other council members and largely controls what proposals come to a vote. Under her leadership, the council has taken on matters including requiring electronics manufacturers to collect their products for recycling, making it tougher for immigration officials to deport people being released from city jails or police custody and barring employers from discriminating against unemployed job applicants _ the last of which Bloomberg vetoed. Quinn has vowed the council will override his veto.
Quinn and her longtime partner, products liability lawyer Kim Catullo, married last year after more than a decade together. Their wedding guest list was a who’s-who of New York politics, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Bloomberg and many other officeholders in attendance.
The year before, Quinn had invoked her personal story in lobbying state lawmakers to legalize gay marriage, a cause Cuomo championed. She called it “one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life” when the measure passed in June 2011.
Her announced and likely Democratic opponents include de Blasio, former City Councilman Sal Albanese; Comptroller John Liu; and former Comptroller Bill Thompson.
Republican contenders include former Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota; Tom Allon, a publisher; billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis; and George McDonald, the head of a nonprofit that helps the homeless.
Former Bronx borough president and federal housing official Adolfo Carrion, a former Democrat who is now unaffiliated, is running on the Independence Party line and seeking Republican backing.
“I will stack my record up against anybody else’s in this field,” Quinn said on Sunday.
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