There are already rumblings that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s reluctance to endorse Democratic mayoral nominee Bill Thompson, who is African-American, is endangering her position. And the fact that there are going to be more African-American, Latino and Asian lawmakers than whites on the Council only makes her situation more complicated.
Is it time for a person of color to become speaker? Charles Barron thinks so.
“Absolutely. It’s long overdue,” said Barron. “This council never had a speaker of color. There are dues in this town to warrant that. There are several good candidates that can fill that position.”
He mentioned Leticia James of Brooklyn and Robert Jackson of Manhattan as possible speakers, but then backed off it and said that the Black, Latino and Asian caucus needed to go through “a process” to find that candidate.
“There’s about 28 of us and we should say this is the person we want to be a speaker and it is time for this city to have a person of color, and I think it should be a black person,” said Barron.
“If we have enough heart and spine, she can be history and I think it’s time for a new speaker,” he said.
When I asked whether Quinn’s reluctance to support Thompson might be a factor in ousting her, Barron said that it definitely was.
“She should not lead us if she does not endorse Bill Thompson. That would be a betrayal of people of color, and a betrayal of the Democratic Party,” he said.
Quinn has held onto her position because of the strong support she has gotten from the Queens caucus, which is the largest, and by cobbling together enough votes from Manhattan and those in the Bronx not aligned with the Democratic County organization there. But since the elections on Tuesday, that makeup is shuffled. Several insurgents won in Queens, and it’s unclear if they’ll break away when it comes time for a vote for speaker.
So while there may be talk, Quinn won’t be in imminent danger until there’s a challenger who can put together his or her own coalition to oppose her.