In a summer when political conversations have been dominated by genital pics, seemingly hearing impaired Congressional leaders, and questionable leadership at the Presidential level, I finally got a positive charge this morning when the New York Times ran an article by David W. Chen about NYC City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s potential bid for mayor in 2013. For me, it’s the first glimmer of political hope I’ve had in months.
I haven’t always felt great affection for Christine Quinn. Whenever I saw her on the news, I felt like she was yelling. Then I watched her, again on television, during the October 2009 March on Washington for Gay Marriage, and she literally was screaming. I remember thinking, “This is the leader of the City Council?” It kind of turned my stomach a bit. I got this impression that all she did was screamed and yelled and hollered. Apparently, based on the article, I was not the only one.
My thoughts about Quinn shifted ten months ago, when I had the chance to watch her in action at a round table discussion at NYU. At the time in October 2010 when youth suicides were dominating the news, Quinn teamed up with other council members and the city’s college and university presidents to host a round table discussion on bullying and how higher education needed to respond. I received a last-minute invite to observe the proceedings, and it changed my perceptions of Christine Quinn.
First off, there was no passionate, over-the-top yelling. Lots of compassion instead. Then I also watched Quinn sit between two very powerful university presidents and run a highly effective meeting that STAYED ON TASK. At numerous points in the meeting, Quinn gently reminded the group of the time limitations and urged people to move the conversation forward with comments. Granted, this is like major common sense, but how many times have I sat in meetings with so-called leaders who have no sense of time management or any ability to run an effective meeting? More than I care to reveal. So I left that particular gathering feeling real admiration for Christine Quinn. That may be oversimplified for some people, but it represented a major turning point for me.
Chen’s Times article gives voice to Quinn’s critics, including gay men who seem to take issue with her perceived move towards the “middle.” To be honest, I don’t even know what “the middle” means anymore, and I’m not sure I really care. After the national debacle of the last two months, I’m just happy to read about someone who seems to care about and has a record of making legislative changes happen. If that means compromise, then maybe we need more people like Christine Quinn. I don’t have to agree with everything she stands for or every piece of legislation that she passes, but I do have to have confidence in her ability to lead and make decisions. I’m finally excited to watch someone in politics begin a journey to the next step in her career. Let’s hope that Christine Quinn stays the course. And let’s hope that as I do more research about her political positions, that my hope stays alive.