Quinn ‘seriously considered’ public advocate, but not running

Christine Quinn’s political comeback will have to wait. She has announced she’s not going to run in the special election for New York City public advocate, likely to be held sometime in February. Photo by Donna Aceto

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Nov. 28, 11 p.m.: Christine Quinn definitely plans to keep advocating — just not as New York City public advocate.

The former City Council speaker recently issued a statement, saying she had seriously considered running for public advocate, but in the end, decided not to throw her hat in what could well be a crowded ring in a special election — likely to be held sometime in February.

Quinn represented the Council’s District 3 (the Village and Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen) and was Council speaker from 2006 to 2014. She ran in the Democratic primary for mayor in 2013, but after starting out strong, finished third, and was then term-limited out of office.

For the past three years, she has headed the nonprofit Women in Need (WIN), assisting homeless women and children.

In a statement on Fri., Nov. 16, Quinn said, “After giving serious consideration to a run for public advocate, I believe the greatest impact I can have on the direction of this city is to continue attacking the twin crises of homelessness and affordability through my current role. We’re witnessing a historic rise in homelessness in our city and, as C.E.O. of WIN, I look forward to driving reforms that can help thousands of families struggling every day. I will continue to be an outside voice who challenges the status quo, holds officials and agencies accountable, and demands more effective policy that is rooted in compassion. I will continue to do what I have been doing for the past three years — representing and fighting daily for the New Yorkers who need it most: the forgotten women and children living in the city’s shelter system.

“I am urging all of the candidates who run for [public advocate] to make homelessness and affordability the central issues of this upcoming campaign. New York City families truly need every public advocate they can get.

“I want to thank all of those who have encouraged me to run, and for the confidence they have in me,” Quinn added. “Rest assured, I will continue to aggressively fight on behalf of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, who want nothing more than an affordable place to call home and an equal opportunity to build a future for themselves and their children.”

As a fellow Village elected official, state Senator Brad Hoylman is a longtime political ally of Quinn’s.

Asked for comment on her announcement, Hoylman told The Villager, “I can understand why she isn’t running for public advocate. Chris is already serving the public by running the city’s largest provider of shelter for homeless families. You don’t need elective office or a title to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Village Democratic District Leader Arthur Schwartz, however, was decidedly less complimentary in his take on the news.

“Christine Quinn has always been an enigma to me,” he said. “She had great promise as a progressive leader, but was corrupted by her eight years as New York’s second-most powerful elected official. It is good to see that she is not going to run, and become the focus of the campaign, which instead, I believe, will focus on new leadership for the future of New York. This fight, I believe, will come down to [Brooklyn] Councilmember Jumaane Williams versus [Bronx] Assemblymember Michael Blake.”

Schwartz, who is an attorney, is not exactly a disinterested party, though. He is Williams’s counsel in the upcoming public advocate special election.

Other expected candidates for advocate include former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Upper West Side Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell, Obama administration veteran Dawn Smalls, and Nomiki Konst, formerly of “The Young Turks.”

The office will be opening up because the current public advocate, Letitia James, was elected New York State attorney general earlier this month. Eric Schneiderman stepped down as attorney general in May after publication of a New Yorker article documenting his allegedly physically abusive relationships with several women and his alleged excessive drinking.

Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran political consultant, said Quinn is snubbing advocate partly because it’s too risky, in that, a second major loss would be too crushing.

“I think it was part that she doesn’t want the job,” he said, “and she has another agenda. Maybe she’ll run for mayor again in 2021 — or comptroller or maybe borough president, which are a good fit for her.

“She already ran [for mayor] and lost,” Sheinkopf said. “Why put yourself in a position where you might lose, and if you lose, you’re finished? So, if you don’t have a clear shot… . If she did lose, it would end her career.”

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