Leadership v. Talk in Politics According to Christine Quinn

STORY BY Liz Willis

Published: June 21, 2013

As the race for NYC Mayor has begun heating up, so has the amount of attacks amongst contenders in the race. Christine Quinn has largely remained silent in regards to criticizing her opponents, instead focusing on showing her impeccable record as Speaker of the City Council. The address I witnessed her deliver Monday was framed by the choice before New Yorkers: choosing between results and rhetoric and between leadership and pandering. These two sets of dichotomies, while the straight-forward nature of their delivery may be hard to stomach, is the truth before New Yorkers. When faced with multiple contenders in a heated race, Quinn has chosen to focus on what matters – results. As a New Yorker, my main concern is the ability of the mayor to deliver for NYC and make the tough choices necessary in the role in a timely manner. Having lived in cities where the Mayor did not appear to be acting in a timely matter and delivering results, the truth is results matter and they should matter to voters in this election. Quinn paints an accurate framework of the choices voters will need to make when selecting their choice for NYC mayor. The first choice is choosing between a candidate who displays leadership by creating a united front among conflicted parties or an individual who caters to voters.

In regards to leadership and pandering, Quinn herself has been accused of pandering most recently to parents in an end-of-the-school-year letter sent out by her office. While some would argue that a candidate is pandering to potential voters in this instance, I would say that as a former teacher in the Philadelphia School District the City Council needs to inform parents of what it has accomplished in the most recent school year. It is up to parents whether they wish to vote for Quinn or not, but I would hope that they care about the results she has delivered as the Speaker of the Council for kids in the city’s public school system. Those results do not go unnoticed by the organizations and others who are beginning to announce their endorsement of Quinn including a cadre of organizations, democratic clubs, labor unions, and community members. Their strong support for Quinn does not indicate a pandering candidate, but a candidate with a record of leading and delivering results for the different facets of New York City. While voters certainly cannot base their decision on endorsements, they are yet another part of Quinn’s support as a candidate for mayor.

If one were to picture the NYC mayoral election as a job interview of sorts, the “experience” section should show the candidates ability to deliver results in their prior role. In a discussion or debate, empty rhetoric will not carry one far when it comes time to discuss how a candidate intends to deliver the same results to New Yorkers as mayor as they did in their previous role. In her speech Quinn mentioned the recent debate over the 91st Street Transfer Station which showed the dynamics in the current mayoral race. She outlined the fact that a candidate may decide to make hard decisions and pay a political cost in order to deliver results. Quinn has certainly made hard decisions, indicative of someone who is leading and not talking. Now with the race down to less than 90 days before the primary, in her speech Quinn stated that her ideas for New York are not just talking points.

Therefore, I ask New Yorkers to think about the choice Quinn has presented to us as we continue to follow the NYC Mayoral Election. As a New Yorkers, do we want results or empty rhetoric from the individual we elect as mayor? Do we want an individual who can lead the city based on their truth or one who will simply cater to the requests of constituents? Results do matter and I like others look forward to the continued debate as the other candidates start to compare their results with Quinn. There is no denying a strong record and when you have based your platform on taking cheap jabs at a candidate, it cannot take away that candidate’s strong overall record. Like education, a record cannot be taken away when the results are front and center. It’s time for all of the candidates competing against Quinn in the mayoral race to stop talking and start leading if they want to show why they would be able to lead NYC in a manner better than Quinn. Her speech Monday indicates her willingness to have the discussion in regards to each candidate’s record. As we move forward towards the primary, the respective records of leading and results of the actions of the other candidates will need to be in the forefront. There is no better way to show one’s ability to take on a higher position requiring the deliverance of results than to show the results from one’s current role. Does criticizing an individual’s decisions on certain matters equate to being a good candidate for mayor? No, you are just talking.

The most direct statement of her speech indicated where Quinn stands: “Talk is cheap. Voters will decide based on actions,” Quinn said. “The greatest indication of what someone will be able to achieve can be found in what they’ve already accomplished. The record speaks for itself.”

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