She represents continuity with the Bloomberg years; he says the city needs to reverse course. He’s been a constant thorn in the mayor’s side. She’s often stood by it.
But with less than 24 hours to go before the polls open, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio found themselves making their final pitches to undecided voters still torn between the two candidates.
Outside P.S. 333 on the Upper West Side, Ms. Quinn, the former front-runner, who is now fighting for a slot in the expected runoff, spent part of the morning greeting parents, including mom Ann Melinger, who stopped to ask Ms. Quinn about her number one issue: city public schools. After discussing the need to scale down the focus on testing and increase arts and music funding, Ms. Melinger asked Ms. Quinn to make her closing pitch.
“So if I’m like just on the fence between Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio,” she said. “Tell me why.”
“Well, look,” began Ms. Quinn. “You want as a mayor somebody who has the vision to move forward, the vision that they can commit to, that they can achieve, and a record of already having delivered,” she said, slamming Mr. de Blasio’s promises as “pie in the sky.”
None of the other candidates, she argued, had the same “record of having delivered.” She touted saving thousands of public school teaching jobs and a pilot program that extends the school day at 20 middle schools.
“That’s something I got put in place,” she touted. “Bill can’t tell you anything like that. In fact, his entire time in the council, he didn’t pass one law that would have helped a public school.”
Recent polls show an unusual number of voters remain undecided heading into Tuesday. And Ms. Melinger, 35, told reporters after the exchange that she remained torn.
On one hand, she said, was Mr. de Blasio. “His ad with his son really was like, ‘Wow! O.K., cool. That’s great,’” she explained. But Ms Quinn, she said, “seems really passionate about education and seems to have done a lot with education and that’s my biggest issue right now coming into the New York City public school system … It was helpful to hear what she had to say, especially about schools. I really like her. I’ve been impressed with her from the beginning.”
About 20 blocks south and about two hours later, Mr. de Blasio, surrounded by a gaggle of press, was making his final pitch to voters outside a busy Fairway supermarket.
Almost immediately he was approached by Betsey Peters-Epstein, 62, a cantor who lives on the Upper West Side and said she, too, was torn between Mr. de Blasio and Ms. Quinn.
“It’s a real dilemma for me,” she said of her position. “This is really unusual.” Ms. Peters-Epstein told Mr. de Blasio that she was deeply concerned about public safety–but also wanted a balance with civil rights.
“I lived through the Dinkins years,” said Ms. Peters-Epstein, who’d crossed the political aisle to vote for Republican Rudy Giuliani because she felt the city needed “a tough son-of-a-bitch to run his very difficult union, criminal town … And I’m worried that you’re so liberal that we could go back to the Dinkins years on the streets.”
Trying to assuage her fears, Mr. de Blasio stressed that he was “very committed to an aggressive approach to policing,” but argued the rampant use of stop-and-frisk wasn’t making the city any safer.
After the exchange, Ms. Peters-Epstein told Politicker that Mr. de Blasio had given “a really great spiel for the cameras,” but seemed to be leaning to toward Ms. Quinn, citing her experience working with Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a plus.
It was the opposite for Upper West Sider Beverly Nadler, who said that she, too, was having trouble making up her mind after getting the chance to meet Mr. de Blasio.
“I go back-and-forth between Quinn and de Blasio. However, there’s something so human about him. And that commercial with his son was perfect. It just really hit me right,” she explained. “He has a wonderful family, And somehow that speaks to me.”
Still, Ms. Nadler noted that Ms. Quinn had been endorsed by The New York Times ( “I kind of feel they did their homework”) and said “she’d probably be very effective. But there’s something very heartwarming about this man.”
So which would it be, Politicker asked?
“Heart over head,” she said.