Bill Thompson, one of the leading candidates in this year’s mayoral election, has sometimes been accused of being, for lack of a better word, boring. This morning, Mr. Thompson disputed the idea he lacks “fire in the belly” at the pro-business Association for a Better New York early this morning.
The mayoral candidate and former controller addressed the issue of the level of excitement he brings to his political work when asked about his “temperament” in a question-and-answer session after his speech.
“The major criticism of you has not been your intelligence or indeed your record, but more of an issue of temperament. We’d like to turn it on its head,” the audience member began. “I actually think, witnessing you over the years, that your calm temperament, that some people perceive as a lack of energy, has, in fact, been a plus in resolving some very tough issues.”
Mr. Thompson suggested he only faces this question because he works in the five boroughs and New Yorkers expect their politicians to share the city’s brash attitude.
“People, at times think if you don’t scream and holler, if you don’t attack people in New York City, you’re ‘calm and mild-mannered,’” he said, pausing before reiterating and embellishing the point. “It’s New York City, if you don’t scream and if you don’t holler, you’re ‘mild-mannered.’ If you don’t try and throw someone down the stairs, you ‘lack fire in the belly.’ This is New York City, it’s what we’re used to.”
Based on his answer, it doesn’t sound like we’ll see the mild-mannered politician rip off his disguise and transform into SuperThompson any time soon. However, Mr. Thompson cited his consolidation of the city’s school system in his former capacity as president of the Board of Education as an example of an instance where he felt his more subdued personal “style” was the right one to tackle the problem and resolve competing interests.
“Look, I think that my style is a style of bringing people together in collaboration, but then making decisions and moving forward,” he explained.