Council Speaker Christine Quinn set out to do two things yesterday evening: gather Latino voters for her mayoral bid and undermine scandal-scarred Vito Lopez’s own campaign for the City Council.
Ms. Quinn, the one-time mayoral front-runner, trudged up and down Williamsburg staircases with Mr. Lopez’s electoral rival Antonio Reynoso, the 30 year-old former council staffer the Democratic establishment hopes can block Mr. Lopez from a second act in politics.
While Williamsburg is often imagined as an affluent hipster haven, the southern portion of the neighborhood is still heavily Latino. Ms. Quinn, who handed out palm cards in English and Spanish touting her newspaper endorsements (notably, not the conservative New York Post), is trying to make significant inroads with Latino voters, particularly women.
And the Gracie Mansion hopeful told Politicker she was confident she would do well in the neighborhood.
“We’re walking right here on buildings that are all [Housing and Urban Development] related buildings, affordable housing, and the ability to steady the neighborhood which is facing terrible gentrification pressures. That’s one of the biggest issues in the Latino community,” said Ms. Quinn, ambling out of one South Second Street building. “I have both a clear vision of how to build and improve affordable housing and have a real record of having done it.”
Ms. Quinn quickly pivoted to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the primary’s latest front-runner as next Tuesday’s Democratic primary quickly approaches.
“Unlike the Public Advocate, I’m not talking out of both sides of my mouth,” she added. “Saying I’m cracking down on slumlords and then using them to raise money for my campaign.”
As they walked by fliers from the Central Labor Council denouncing Mr. Lopez, who is accused of repeatedly sexually harassing his staffers in the State Assembly, Mr. Reynoso, speaking Spanish, led the way.
With a sheet of registered Democrats in hand, Ms. Quinn was greeted with receptions that ranged from warmth to indifference. An elderly woman told Mr. Reynoso in Spanish that it would be special to have a woman mayor. Far from fluent, Ms. Quinn, between her trademark booming laughter, offered “gracias” many times when chatting with voters.
Ms. Quinn remained jocular throughout the door-knocking, chiding Politicker for trying to snap a photograph of her and Mr. Reynoso schmoozing with an elderly female voter peeking out from her door. “You can’t take pictures of women in their households, what’s wrong with you?” she jokingly asserted.
Her mood only darkened when Politicker pressed her on her once close relationship to Mr. Lopez, who used to chair the Assembly’s housing committee and was the head of Brooklyn’s Democratic Party before his scandal last year. Veteran reporter Wayne Barrett recently documented Ms. Quinn’s past ties to Mr. Lopez.
“I didn’t have much of a choice then to work with him, but look, the situation now is that we can’t get him into the City Council and I’m proud to be out here supporting Antonio,” said Ms. Quinn.
She later added, “I’m going be mayor and Vito Lopez is not going to be in the City Council.”