Council Speaker Christine Quinn went on WNYC this morning to make her pitch to voters, but the New Yorkers who called into the show were more interested in highlighting some of the biggest issues that have dogged her mayoral campaign.
Ms. Quinn was pressed repeatedly on her decision to extend term limits in 2009, which one caller, Susan from Greenwich Village, said had undermined democracy by overriding voter referendums.
“How am I supposed to convince my kids, who are in their 20s, that it means anything to vote when you abrogate two elections to give yourself and Bloomberg third terms?” she asked. “They just roll their eyes at me. They say, ‘It doesn’t matter, the whole process is corrupt.’”
Another caller, David from Queens, had the same basic question.
“You have been serving the City of New York and its citizens and I compliment for you for that, but my bone of contention with you is: Chris, why did you endorse Mayor Bloomberg to serve a third term? That’s what’s derailing me with you. I want you to break it down for me. Why did you do that?” he pressed.
In both cases, Ms. Quinn stood by her term limits stance, touting the fact that she had made an unpopular decision based on her convictions. She also attempted to skewer the man leading in the polls, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, accusing him of switching sides on the issue, too.
Just four days from the primary, Mr. de Blasio has branded himself as the true progressive in the race, but his rivals have attempted to slow his momentum by painting him as two-faced.
“I’ve always been very clear about the decision I made and I stand it,” Ms. Quinn said, adding that voters should be paying more attention to Mr. de Blasio flipping on his position since 2005, when–as a speaker candidate–he advocated extending legislative term limits: “I don’t think that kind of inconsistency, even if you disagree with my decision, is what we want in a mayor.”
Yet another caller challenged her consistency, however, questioning her simultaneous support for both curtailing the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy and for keeping Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on the job. Mr. de Blasio has frequently made the same argument.
“How can we take seriously what you’re saying about the police and how can we take seriously your commitment to the concerns of people of color … when you have committed to keep the police commissioner, who is widely despised in the City of New York?” Greg, from Harlem, asked.
Ms. Quinn said she thought Mr. Kelly had good qualities and explained that he would have to commit to bringing down stops in order to work for her. But host Brian Lehrer pushed further.
“Does this whole Kelly thing indicate that you’ve gotten caught trying to be too fine on some of these hot-button issues and so you’ve developed a trust issue? On having Kelly but not having [his] signature policy. On paid sick leave, you supported the idea–’but not now’–and then when the pressure got so hot, you brought it up before City Council. Things like that?” asked Mr. Lehrer.
Ms. Quinn repeated her position and then accused Mr. de Blasio of supporting pro-stop-and-frisk police commissioners in his own hypothetical administration.
“I understand that not everyone agrees with my perspective on Ray Kelly,” she said. “But what you gotta look at here is somebody like Bill de Blasio talking out of both sides of his mouth and trying to have it both ways on a really critical issue like stop-and-frisk.”