Trash Talk Dominates Christine Quinn’s Upper East Side Campaign Stop

Christine Quinn petitioning on the Upper East Side. (Photo: Jill Colvin)

Christine Quinn petitioning today.

Garbage politics is continuing to dominate the mayor’s race.

Indeed, Council Speaker Christine Quinn is set to defend the controversial East 91st Street waste transfer station in an aggressive speech later this morning, and during a 7 a.m. petitioning stop on the Upper East Side, the mayoral candidate was bombarded with questions about the project, which she staunchly supports, despite residents’ fervent opposition.

“NYC wants to build a garbage dump where our kids are playing!” shouted members of the group Pledge 2 Protect, who worked to gather signatures outside the East 86th Street subway station on Lexington Avenue, flanking Ms. Quinn and her supporters as they were trying to campaign.

Ms. Quinn typically likes to keep the locations of her stops under wraps–presumably to dodge the protesters who often demonstrate at her events–but Assemblyman Micah Kellner, who has been fighting the trash plant, sent out alerts via Twitter Sunday night to spread the word.

“They’re concentrating diesel exhaust in a place where children play,” complained Jennifer Ratner, a member of the group, which has been trying to get the candidates to sign a petition vowing to fight the plan. Ms. Quinn has long supported the station, maintaining that all neighborhoods need to share the burden of the city’s trash, and has slammed opponents, including former Comptroller Bill Thompson, for advocating a policy that leads to “environmental racism.”

But it wasn’t just advocates who said the plant was issue number one.

“There’s got to be a better way,” Peter Kenny, 31, who lives at the corner of East 91st Street and First Avenue, told Ms. Quinn as she greeted voters and handed out pamphlets on the street. “It’s right next to the one area where the kids play.”

After hearing her response, Mr. Kenny, a registered independent, told Politicker that Ms. Quinn’s support for the station was a deal-breaker, even if he agreed with her on a slew of other points.

“I couldn’t vote for her, pretty much on that point alone,” said Mr. Kelly, who added that he was largely unimpressed by the “hodgepodge of characters” running for mayor from both parties and wished Mayor Michael Bloomberg could run again.

“I would love to see Bloomberg stick around another term,” he explained. “When you have a very unique city like New York that’s more like a sovereign state or a financial capital of the world, you want somebody that can run a business.”

Despite being there to petition, Ms. Quinn did stop to listen to the members of Pledge 2 Protect’s concerns, but made clear she had no plans to budge.

“My position on the plan is not going to change,” she told them. “I’m happy to meet with you, but I don’t want to mislead anybody in any way at all about that. I want to be really direct about that.”

As she was leaving, Ms. Quinn offered an upbeat assessment of the early morning stop.

“Not that bad,” she mused. “You know, not that bad.”