01 August, 2013

Reflections on the 2013 NYC Mayoral Race

Over the past few months, I have carefully been considering the 2013 New York City mayoral race and examining the candidates who are seeking office. I reserved making a decision about whom I would support until I had invested enough time to examine and try to work with all of the candidates.

Most importantly to me as an LGBTQ-rights activist, NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn has stood out among the candidates as standing by the LGBTQ community, and I believe that she will continue to do so. Not many know about this but Quinn has laid out a plan for LGBTQ residents of NYC:

  • Establish a Mayor’s Office of HIV/AIDS Policy
  • Ensure That No Young Person in New York Has to Spend the Night on the Streets
  • Build New York City’s First LGBT Senior Housing Community
  • Make Sure City Agencies Effectively Serve all LGBT New Yorkers
  • Redouble Efforts to Combat Hate Crimes and Promote Tolerance

Quinn's plan and support for the LGBTQ community, laid out in more detail on her web site (linked to above), is something no other city-wide candidate can even begin to approach. While one needn't be a member of the LGBTQ community to support us, the fact that she is part of the community gives her a deep-rooted understanding of our needs and wants, as well as the passion, drive, and determination to see that we are not forgotten about.

There are a handful detractors out there who complain about Quinn -- whether it's about her bulldog personality (which led to a NY Times article about her sometimes acerbic nature) or those who continue to believe the misinformation disseminated by a spattering of short-sighted individuals who don't know how hard Quinn and her staff fought to save St. Vincent's Hospital from closure -- even after the Archdiocese of New York, the state government, and the federal government all walked away from the hospital that had incurred more than $1 billion in debt and had stopped paying its medical staff. Such narrow-minded vision detracts from the bigger picture, and those who refuse to examine the entire record, instead of mere soundbites, do a disservice to us all.

Additionally, I believe Quinn's bulldog personality will serve more as a benefit and, perhaps, may even be a requirement for the mayorship of NYC. Just a take a look at the previous "Hizzoners": Giuliani and Bloomberg are definitely the pit bulls of NYC's mayors but they effectuated positive change in this city, pulling it out of the brink of failure and decline. They revitalized the city after years -- decades -- of neglect. Indeed, crime is down, money is coming in, and things are moving forward.

On the other hand, we have Abe Beane and David Dinkins, whose meek natures and personalities allowed the city to fall deeply into disrepair and ill repute. Regardless of one's personal opinions of Giuliani and Bloomberg, one must admit that the city is in better shape under them than it was under Beane/Dinkins--despite the currently persistent, lagging national economy.

More to the point, Fiorello LaGuardia is perhaps most remembered for his boldfaced personality and as someone who moved the city forward in leaps and bounds -- a situation that could best be compared to how I envision Quinn will handle her mayorship based on her most impressive track record to date.

The harsh (to some) reality is that it takes a bulldog to get things done in this city. The fact that Quinn can be described as such a bulldog, to me, is an asset--at least in terms of qualifications for the position she seeks. She has a proven track record of getting things done -- from tenants' rights to caring for the elderly to holding Wall Street accountable to rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy, she's been there and gotten the job done.

New York City is a global leader; it's a city like no other and has one of the most complex infrastructures and bureaucracies of any city sitting on the world stage (I should know after my experience of trying to navigate the city government's system to obtain the requisite permits to produce the 2013 Bronx LGBTQ Pride & Health Fair).

As the Mayor of the world's stage, Quinn will be in a position to advance LGBTQ rights throughout the world in an unprecedented manner as no other can. Indeed, the mere fact that a lesbian has been elected as mayor of the world's preeminent city will send ripples of acceptance throughout the world.

One of the issues listed on on her web site is combating hate crimes and promoting tolerance. When the Mayor of NYC speaks, the world listens, and we can expect a Mayor Quinn to be very vocal on global acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and our community. Given her "bulldog" personality, do you really think she will remain silent on the inhumane treatment of LGBTQ individuals in Russia, Africa (Uganda and others), the Middle East, and beyond?

So just what can we expect a Mayor Quinn to do, as someone who will get the job done?

This is where I had some reservations about Quinn. In my work on building a new LGBTQ community center for the Bronx, I'd heard perceptions of an absence from Speaker Quinn in the outer boroughs. At first glance, this appeared to be the case.

However, as I worked with Quinn's office on various projects over the past few months, as well as with Quinn herself, I discovered that such perceptions were based on the sad fact that people are lazy, do not wish to research or read for themselves, and instead rely on rumours and innuendo spread by friends and family alike.

Quinn is, in my experience, passionate, dedicated, and willing to do what it takes to get the job done. Her energy is positive, and driven. She's not going to make everyone happy. She's not perfect. And she's not willing to change who she is in order to please everyone. In short, she has integrity and she's honest. Despite otherwise being the quintessential politician--her integrity and honesty are qualities that one very rarely finds in today's breed of career politician.

I have no misconceptions or misgivings that, from time to time, Quinn won't serve certain special interests. In running the most complex and preeminent city in the world, one has to mire their feet in such muck on occasion in order to move forward and get things done. But she has shown a commitment to the citizens and to progress each and every time she has had to dip her feet into the quagmire of politics in order to move the City forward--and that's what's important.

That being said, I expect Quinn to be a focussed, progressive leader who has a commanding ability above the other candidates to get the job done. In fact, I propose that should really be her slogan: Get The Job Done Quinn.

For the reasons set forth above, I hereby lend my name as an LGBTQ-rights activist of some 20+ years (hey, I was very politically astute as a teenager!) in a hearty (and heartfelt) endorsement of her candidacy.

It's not like one would be voting for the lesser of the evils, after all--something I refuse to do (I voted neither for Obamney nor Robama in 2012). But rather--and quite surprisingly--by voting for Quinn, one would be voting for the best out of an imperfect bunch. And to be honest, if there were a perfect candidate, I wouldn't trust them. I'd rather take someone who's flawed but real, industrious, honest, and committed, rather than the ideal of perfection that lofts about in lilliputian contempt.

Christine C. Quinn for Mayor of New York City -- the world's stage -- because she's my kind of bulldog!