Christine Quinn is the current Speaker of the New York City Council, one of the most powerful positions in city government after the Mayor. Quinn is the first female and first openly gay person to serve as speaker, which is a position that was created in 1990 as result of a revision in the city charter. Quinn was elected to the city council in 1999. After serving on the city council for almost seven years, she was elected city council speaker in January 2006. Quinn entered politics to manage the city council campaign of Thomas Duane in 1991, after which she served as Duane's Chief of Staff for five years. Quinn later became the Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project and was appointed a member of the NYC Police/Community Relations Task Force by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Question: Which will come first, the completion of the Second Avenue Subway or the next Mets World Series victory?
Christine Quinn: Well I can’t actually answer that question honestly because my father is 84, and he remembers the day his mother sent him and his brother out of the apartment to go watch the men who were going to build them a new subway. And he has claimed he is not going to die until he gets to ride the Second Avenue Subway. So, I might, you know, I have a slightly skewed allegiance as it relates to the finishing of the Second Avenue Subway.
Question: What idea has most inspired you?
Christine Quinn: You know, when I was a kid, I read every biography in my school library about a political leader or a famous woman. And the idea in all of those books were that you could change things was that, you know, everyone uses this phrase nowadays, “it is what it is.” I hate that phrase. Nothing "is what it is." Things can always change to what we want them to be and to be better. And as a kid that’s the idea I got out of those books. That people can change things and people can make situations that aren’t good, better. And to me that is the only real idea that matters.
Question: Who is the greatest or most inspiring New Yorker of all time?
Christine Quinn: Probably the greatest or most inspiring New Yorker of all time would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His wife a close second.
Recorded on October 28, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont
Directed & Produced by Jonathan Fowler