Christine Quinn

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Christine Quinn
Christine Quinn VF 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Quinn at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
Speaker of the New York City Council
In office
January 1, 2006 – December 31, 2013
Preceded byGifford Miller
Succeeded byMelissa Mark-Viverito
Member of the New York City Council from the 3rd district
In office
November 2, 1999 – December 31, 2013
Preceded byThomas K. Duane
Succeeded byCorey Johnson
ConstituencyManhattan: Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Midtown West, Times Square area
Personal details
Christine Callaghan Quinn

(1966-07-25) July 25, 1966 (age 52)
Glen Cove, New York
Political partyDemocratic
Women's Equality Party[1]
Kim Catullo (m. 2012)
ResidenceChelsea, New York City
Alma materTrinity College
WebsiteQuinn for New York

Christine Callaghan Quinn (born July 25, 1966) is an American politician. A member of the Democratic Party, she formerly served as the Speaker of the New York City Council. The third person to hold this office, she was the first female and first openly gay speaker.[2][3] She ran to succeed Michael Bloomberg as the city's mayor in the 2013 mayoral election, but lost the Democratic primary. Quinn is a CNN political contributor.

Early life, education, and early political career[edit]

Quinn was born in Glen Cove, New York, one of two daughters of Mary (née Callaghan) and Lawrence Quinn.[4] Her mother died of breast cancer in 1982. She went to School of the Holy Child in the village of Old Westbury on Long Island in New York, and graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in 1988.[5] Her maternal grandmother, Ellen (née Shine) Callaghan, was a survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

She served as head of the Housing Justice Campaign for the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development. 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. She 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.[6]

New York City Council[edit]

In a 1999 special election, Quinn ran for New York City Council in District Three. The 3rd Council District covers the Manhattan neighborhoods of Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and Hell's Kitchen, as well as parts of SoHo and Murray Hill. Quinn became the Democratic nominee and defeated Republican Joseph Mauriello, 89%-11%.[7]

In 2001, Quinn won a full term on the City Council, defeating Republican Michelle Bouchard 75%-25%.[8] In 2005, she won re-election to her second full term unopposed.[9] In 2009, she won re-election to her third full term with 81% of the vote.[10]


While on the City Council, Quinn served as Chair of the Health Committee. She sponsored the Equal Benefits Bill and the Health Care Security Act, which requires that city contractors provide parity in benefits between married spouses and registered domestic partners. This bill (along with the Health Care Security Act, which ensures health care for grocery workers) was passed over Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto.[11] Quinn also "shepherded" a ban on indoor smoking at commercial establishments through the City Council; the bill passed 42-7.[12]

Speaker of the New York City Council[edit]

Quinn was elected Speaker of the New York City Council in January 2006,[13] and was re-elected in 2010.[14] Quinn is the first female and first openly gay person to hold this position.[2][3]

Controversy Regarding Council Funds[edit]

Under New York City law, the City Council Speaker has authority over the yearly City Council funds, worth almost $400 million (in 2012), to distribute among 51 members.[15] Since her 2005 re-election, Quinn has served the city of New York in this capacity weighed with much responsibility. The discretionary funding system sometimes referred to as the "slush fund" has been criticized in recent years, with some councilmembers alleging Quinn to have cut funding to their districts as a form of political retaliation. Quinn has repeatedly denied these allegations.[15] A council member who brought such allegations against Quinn is Brooklyn City Council member, Charles Barron. Barron and the 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care organization demanded the immediate resignation of Quinn as New York City Council Speaker for her inappropriate dispersal of the "slush fund" to fake organizations.[16] These two parties questioned the authenticity of Quinn's plea that she was completely unaware of the improper money handling occurring under her leadership and they viewed her even more suspiciously when she attempted to reform the city's budget to alleviate the damage caused by the "slush fund."

In April 2008, the New York Post revealed[17] that Quinn's office had appropriated millions of dollars to organizations that do not exist, and that the money was then secretly routed to organizations favored by individual council members. In a news conference that followed Quinn said, "I had no knowledge of it; I did not know this was the practice". Quinn said that she found out about it only a few months earlier, alerted authorities, and ordered staffers to stop the practice, but they did not listen.[18] Quinn hired a criminal defense lawyer to represent her in the federal and city investigations.[19] Records showed that nearly 25 percent of those "secret slush" funds went to organizations in Quinn's district, and that two of the biggest recipients of the funds had contributed to Quinn's 2009 mayoral run.[20] In September 2011, one of the city council's lawyers reported that the federal "investigation has been closed without taking up any action," but only after two councilmen were indicted at the cost of $100,000 to the City.[21]

Despite this, however, strong demands for Quinn's resignation, money laundering investigations against her, and the overall political controversy surrounding Quinn did not help her 2013 bid for New York City mayor—a bid in which she hoped to change the world—despite receiving support in the Democratic primaries from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) [22] Rather, Bill de Blasio proved to be the stronger candidate than her to ultimately win the title of New York City mayor.

Following this controversy, Quinn had no other option but to seek other avenues to rectify the damage done to her career, image, and reputation. For instance, she increased her social activism with many gay and lesbian causes as well as homelessness advocacy.

Controversy Regarding Community Safety Act[edit]

In 2013, Council Speaker Quinn received much backlash and critique for her views concerning New York City's Community Safety Act. Quinn was wary that the Act would do more harm than good for the New York Police Department. Specifically, Quinn opposed measures to ban racial, religious, and identity profiling believing such would introduce an array of lawsuits against NYPD.[23] On the contrary, Quinn supported the Act's measure to increase the number of police officers, expand usage of mobile cameras, and the creation of an app notifying police of local dangers.

Quinn's opposition to parts of the bill occurred shortly after the fatal Boston Marathon bombing in which ethnic tensions proved to be at an all-time high in the U.S. President of the NAACP New York State Conference, Hazel Dukes, National Action Network President, Reverend Al Sharpton, and spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, Joo-Hyun Kang accused Quinn of failing justice and minority communities in New York at a time when most needed.[23]

Primary education reform efforts[edit]

Two years into her term reelection in 2012, Council Speaker Quinn proposed mandatory kindergarten. Quinn explained in her State of the City address that "every year, nearly 3,000 5-year olds in New York City don't enroll in kindergarten...That means thousands of kids enter first grade every year having never set foot in a classroom. Most of them are kids who need it most.[24] Kids whose first language is not English or come from transitional homes for example. Legislation to implement the proposal was stalled for concerns regarding funding. Mayor Bloomberg noted that although educational reform is a worthy measure and priority to many, including him, mandatory kindergarten requires $30 million from the city of New York that is not yet feasible. Nevertheless, Quinn and other council members brainstormed ways to work around this hurdle.

Food stamps[edit]

Under Quinn's leadership, the New York City Council led efforts to make Greenmarkets accept food stamps.[25] She also opposed requiring applicants for food stamps to be electronically fingerprinted.[26] New York State stopped fingerprinting food-stamp recipients in 2007; however, the practice continued in New York City under the Bloomberg administration.[26]

Humanitarian efforts[edit]

On December 26, 2012, Quinn wrote a letter to President Obama formally requesting that he commute Jonathan Pollard's lifetime sentence for providing classified information to Israel. She wrote, "I know I share similar views with many past and current American elected officials," and asked the President to "use [his] constitutional power to treat Mr. Pollard the way others have been treated by our nation's justice system."[27][28][29]

LGBT issues[edit]

Quinn has been a vigorous LGBT advocate during her tenure in City Council. She boycotted the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York in 2006 due to the policy of the Parade's sponsor, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, against gays marching openly. That same year, she tried unsuccessfully to broker a deal with the organizers to allow her to wear a gay pride pin.[30][31] Subsequently, she was named 2008 Irish-American of the Year by the New York-based Irish Echo[32] and has boycotted the parade every year since, marching instead in St. Patrick's Day parades in other cities around the world.[33]

In November 2009, Quinn urged the New York Senate to pass same-sex marriage legislation, stating that "she and her partner, lawyer Kim Catullo, [would] not get married until they [could do so] in New York. Near tears, she added: 'This is literally a moment when people can stand up and say that everybody's family matters, that everybody's home is a blessed place and that everybody has the same rights.'"[34]

On July 28, 2012, Quinn sent a letter demanding that the president of NYU end the University's relationship with Chick-Fil-A, taking issue with the stance of the company's CEO, Dan Cathy, regarding same-sex marriage.[35]

Position on Ahmadinejad visit[edit]

Preceding the controversial lecture by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University in 2007, Quinn wrote to the school requesting that his invitation to speak be withdrawn due to the Iranian president's support of state-sponsored terrorism and hate speech, the latter particularly with regard to the Holocaust. Her request was denied.[36]

Term-limits positions[edit]

According to New York, "[for] years, Quinn opposed term limits, a position that helped her get elected speaker by fellow Council members in 2005. Once in the job, though, she commissioned a poll, and it showed that the public opposed tinkering with them. In December 2007, Quinn declared that repealing term limits would be 'anti-democratic,' a position she called 'firm and final.'"[37] However, in 2008, Quinn backed Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an effort to overturn the two-term limit for New York City elected officials;[38] Quinn stated that she changed her position due to concern about the impact a change in leadership could have upon the City's economic recovery.[37] In 2008, the Council voted to change term limits and allow the mayor, City Council members, and borough presidents to run for third terms, reversing the results of the two previous public referenda.[39] Bloomberg subsequently ran successfully for a third term as Mayor, and Quinn subsequently ran successfully for a third term on the City Council.[40]

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, among others, denounced this move. The following year, in June 2009, the City Council approved a 40% cut in the budget of the Public Advocate's Office. Gotbaum declared herself a victim of "political payback" because of her opposition to the changes in the term limits law,[41] a notion Quinn claimed was "ridiculous". All five candidates for Public Advocate showed up at City Hall in June to protest the move,[42] and in 2010 New Yorkers again voted overwhelmingly to limit politicians to two consecutive terms.[43]

2013 mayoral election[edit]

On March 10, 2013, after much speculation, Quinn announced that she was running for Mayor of New York City.[44] (Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the incumbent, was term-limited and could not run again.) During her mayoral campaign, multiple media outlets reported on Quinn's temper; The New York Times reported that Quinn's staff had her City Council office soundproofed due to her outbursts.[45][46][47][48][49][50][50] In the crowded, nine-candidate race for the Democratic nomination, Quinn was considered the front-runner early in the race.[51][52] However, her position faded as time went on, and she came in third in the Democratic primary.[53] Quinn received 15.5% of the total votes cast, while eventual winner Bill de Blasio received 40.3% and Bill Thompson received 26.2%.

Post-Council activities[edit]

In 2013, Quinn's memoir, With Patience and Fortitude – A Memoir, was published by William Morrow. It sold poorly, with The New York Times reporting only 100 copies sold its first week.[54]

In October 2014, Quinn stumped for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's Women's Equality Party established by Cuomo in July 2014. When asked about the Working Families Party's criticism of the creation of a competing progressive party, she said, "Change is hard."[55]

In January 2015, Gov. Cuomo hired Quinn as a special advisor.[56]

In 2015, Quinn became President and CEO of Women in Need (WIN), a nonprofit organization that is one of New York City's largest providers of services to homeless women and children and a role she still currently occupies. WIN serves more than 11,600 people annually and has placed 750 families into permanent housing last year all while operating 11 homeless shelters in four different boroughs.[57][when?] Since Quinn's first job was as a housing organizer for poor and homeless people, Quinn noted that she had come full-circle with her new role as leader of WIN. Quinn said she was hoping to continue the good work of WIN's previous longtime leader, Bonnie Stone, and use a holistic approach to help women facing domestic violence, eviction, and other issues.[58] Quinn was forthcoming in her approach having taken New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to court contesting his homelessness policy.[59] Specifically, Quinn disliked the policy for not only was it created not in accordance with the rule making established under the Citywide Administrative Protection Act (CAPA) but, also, it made it increasingly harder for homeless adults to seek refuge in shelters.[59] Quinn felt obligated to address a growing, local program in her community that she could no longer ignore given her leadership role on New York's City Council. Leading the Council as Speaker, Quinn successfully shut down the policy measure proposed by Mayor Bloomberg that would require homeless persons to prove that they lacked alternative housing or virtually could not live anywhere else before shelter provisions were made by the city.

Personal life[edit]

Quinn resides in Chelsea, Manhattan, with her wife, Kim Catullo, a lawyer.[60][61] The couple married on May 19, 2012,[62] and spend their summer weekends at a home that they purchased in 2004 in Bradley Beach, New Jersey.[63] Her former partner, Laura Morrison,[64] was chief of staff to former State Senator Thomas Duane.

She joined the board of Athlete Ally, an organization fighting homophobia in sports, in February 2014.[65]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NY Observer: Christine Quinn Fails to Confront Rob Astorino in Midtown
  2. ^ a b Chibbaro, Jr., Lou. "Most powerful" gay politician in the country, Washington Blade, January 20, 2006. Retrieved on 04-11-2007.
  3. ^ a b Clary, Greg (October 11, 2009), "Thousands march for gay rights in Washington", CNN, archived from the original on October 15, 2009, retrieved October 11, 2009
  4. ^ Dwyer, Jim (April 5, 2012). "Christine Quinn Retraces Grandmother's Trip on Titanic". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Christine C. Quinn profile". 2006-01-04. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  6. ^ "Member Bio". Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  7. ^ "New York City Council 03 Special Race - Nov 02, 1999". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
  8. ^ "New York City Council 03 Race - Nov 06, 2001". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
  9. ^ "New York City Council 03 Race - Nov 08, 2005". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
  10. ^ "New York City Council 03 Race - Nov 03, 2009". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2014-03-15.
  11. ^ Saltonstall, David (2006-02-15). "COURT TILTS TO MIKE. KOs gay-partner equal benefits statute and allows him to override Council laws". New York: NY Daily News. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  12. ^ Cardwell, Diane (2002-12-19). "Smoking Ban Is Adopted As Council Ends Its Year". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  13. ^ Humm, Andy (January 5–11, 2006). "Christine Quinn Assumes Speakership". Gay City News. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  14. ^ Lombardi, Frank (January 6, 2010). "City council re-elects Christine Quinn as speaker in a racially-charged session". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Grynbaum, Michael M. (March 27, 2013). "Quinn, on CNN, Denies Being Vindictive". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ Rivera, Ray; Buettner, Russ (April 4, 2008). "Phony Allocations by City Council Reported". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  18. ^ "New York City's City Council Slush Fund Allocations Cloud the Political Future of City Council President Christine Quinn and of Mayor Mike Bloomberg". Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  19. ^ Rivera, Ray; Buettner, Russ (April 12, 2008). "Investigations Into Spending Lead Speaker to Hire Lawyer". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  20. ^ "QUINN-WIN $ITUATION-24% OF MYSTERY FUND WENT TO HER DISTRICT". New York Post. April 6, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2013.[dead link]
  21. ^ Goldenberg, Sally (September 19, 2011). "100G slush-fund hangover". New York Post. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  22. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ a b Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ Mogul, Fred (January 3, 2012). "Food Stamps Increasingly Deployed at Greenmarkets". WNYC. Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  26. ^ a b Taylor, Kate (2011-10-12). "Quinn opposes fingerprinting of food stamp recipients". The New York Times.
  27. ^ "Quinn's letter". Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  28. ^ "My Winners and Losers of 2012 List". Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  29. ^ "Speaker Quinn Sends Letter To Obama Requesting Him To Free Pollard". Hamodia. December 26, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  30. ^ "NY Snubbed In Gay Row". Sky News. March 5, 2007. Archived from the original on July 4, 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  31. ^ Chan, Sewell (March 5, 2007). "Quinn to March for St. Patrick, but in Dublin". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-05.
  32. ^ O'Hanlon, Ray (2008-12-31). "Irish American of the Year: Christine Quinn". The Irish Echo Online. Archived from the original on 2009-03-22. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  33. ^ "Christine Quinn, St. Patrick's Day Parade: Speaker's Prominence Highlights Tensions Between Event, LGBT Community". Huffington Post. March 15, 2013.
  34. ^ Lombardi, Frank (November 9, 2009). "An emotional City Council Speaker Christine Quinn urges state senate to pass same-sex marriage bill". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  35. ^ "The Chick-fil-A Business". The New York Times (Editorial). 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  36. ^ Parsons, Claudia (2007-09-20). "NY university urged to cancel Ahmadinejad speech". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
  37. ^ a b Smith, Chris (April 28, 2013). "Is Quinn's Flip Showing?". New York. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  38. ^ "N.Y. City Council extends term limits for mayor, other officials". CNN. October 23, 2008. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  39. ^ Paybarah, Azi (October 12, 2008). "It's Official: Quinn Backs Bloomberg's Term Limits Plan". The Observer. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  40. ^ Rubenstein, Dana (October 25, 2012). "Betting that voters will still care about Christine Quinn's term-limits deal in 2013". Capital. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  41. ^ "N.Y. City Council extends term limits for mayor, other officials". The New York Times. January 1, 2010. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  42. ^ Chen, David W. (June 23, 2009). "Rivals Unite to Protest Public Advocate Budget Cut". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  43. ^ Hernandez, Javier C. (November 3, 2010). "Once Again, City Voters Approve Term Limits". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
  44. ^ Goldenberg, Sally (March 10, 2013). "Christine Quinn officially announces she's running for NYC mayor". New York Post. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ a b
  51. ^ "NYC mayoral race front-runner Christine Quinn formally launches bid". CBS News. 2013-03-10. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  52. ^ "New York City (NYC) Poll - April 10, 2013 - 82% Of New Yorkers Say Big App | Quinnipiac University Connecticut". 2013-04-10. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  53. ^ Dwyer, Jim (2013-09-10). "Quinn Smiles Gamely, but Primary Wasn't Supposed to Be This Hard". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-11.
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ "Gov. Cuomo hires former NYC council speaker Christine Quinn as special adviser". January 17, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  57. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  58. ^
  59. ^ a b Missing or empty |title= (help)
  60. ^ "Christine C. Quinn Biography". Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  61. ^ Chen, David W. (March 16, 2009). "Quinn to Mark St. Patrick's Day Elsewhere". The New York Times.
  62. ^ Taylor, Kate (May 19, 2012). "Amid New York's Political Elite, Council Speaker Weds Her Longtime Partner". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  63. ^ Chen, David W. "For Council Speaker, Home on Weekends Is at Jersey Shore", The New York Times, July 25, 2012. Accessed August 10, 2012. "Christine C. Quinn, the New York City Council speaker, in the weekend home in Bradley Beach, N.J., that she and her spouse, Kim M. Catullo, bought in 2004."
  64. ^ "Building Ties That Bind New Councilwoman Quinn Looks To Common Good". New York Daily News. New York. 1999-02-20.
  65. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Former Speaker Christine Quinn joins board of nonprofit for gay athletes". New York Daily News, February 4, 2014.

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Matt Foreman
Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project
Succeeded by
Jeffrey Montgomery
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Duane
Member of the New York City Council from the 3rd district
Succeeded by
Corey Johnson
Preceded by
Gifford Miller
Speaker of the New York City Council
Succeeded by
Melissa Mark-Viverito