Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Christine Quinn is walking and talking through the streets of New York. Stressing her middle class roots, the City Council Speaker formally launched her mayoral bid Sunday making stops in each of the five boroughs.
On a crisp, clear Sunday, Quinn gathered supporters in upper Manhattan across the street from the church where her parents were married. She said if you want to be mayor, you have to be out there with New Yorkers.
“Cause the job of the mayor is to put policies and laws and budgets in place that make people's lives easier, help reduce their problems and put things in motion that help their dreams come true,” said Quinn.
If elected, Quinn would be the first woman and the first openly gay person to serve as mayor of New York. She has been on the City Council since 1999 and its leader since 2006.
From Inwood, she hit the South Bronx, Forrest Hills in Queens, Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn and finally West Brighton in Staten Island. Reporters were shuttled by two press vans - one even had wi-fi.
The stops weren't disclosed in advance. Opponents are known to show up at Quinn appearances ready to protest things like her support of the term limit extension and her opposition to paid sick leave.
Mainly the route was lined with supporters, including volunteers from unions like the Fire Officers and the General Building Laborers' union. Retired NYPD Detective Merri Pearsall waited on Southern Blvd in the South Bronx with her 12-year-old daughter Lauren and a friend because, “this is history.”
“It’s something they can tell their children about,” said Pearsall after taking a picture of the girls with Quinn. “That they were there the day, hopefully, the first woman mayor of New York City kicked off her campaign.”
Quinn was also met by opponents, like retired electrical engineer Herbert Goldman, 77, who interrupted her press briefing in Forest Hills, Queens. He demanded Quinn explain her vote to extend term limits.
“How do you feel about the fact that we voted twice for term-limits? How do you feel about that?” he asked as reporters crowded around him and Quinn.
Quinn offered the same explanation she has consistently given, arguing that given the economic situation faced by the city, she and her colleagues believed voters had a right to keep the current administration. But she also acknowledged that people like Goldman may never be fully satisfied with that explanation.
Despite being ahead in the polls and the money race, Quinn said her campaign isn't assuming frontrunner status, “Look, it's March. We're at the beginning of this race and we're walking and talking and running to win and that means working every single day, taking nothing for granted."
A handful of Quinn supporters wore hats bearing her initials "C Q" on the front and the word "underdog" on the back. Quinn, a Democrat, has long been seen as the front runner to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In January, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio launched his run for the Democratic nomination, while businessman John Catsimatidis said he would seek the Republican nomination. In February, Adolfo Carrion Jr., a former Obama appointee and Bronx Borough president, said he would also try to secure the Republican nomination for the city's top spot. He's already on the November ballot on the Independence Party line. Other people that have signaled they intend to run for mayor include: Sal Albanese, former New York City councilman; Tom Allon, CEO of Manhattan Media; John Liu, New York City Comptroller; Bill Thompson, former New York City Comptroller and 2009 Democratic candidate for mayor and Joseph Lhota, former MTA chairman and chief executive officer.