New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Sunday made official her candidacy for mayor, embarking on a five-borough tour aimed at working-class voters.
Quinn, a Glen Cove native, announced her bid in an early morning Twitter post and a video in which she referenced her Irish immigrant grandparents and Long Island childhood, saying they inspired her fight for blue-collar New York.
The Democrat touted her record of balanced city budgets, protecting teachers' jobs, keeping firehouses open and preventing the wrongful deportation of immigrants.
"I'm about keeping New York City a place for the middle class to live and grow, and a place that's going to help all of those hardworking people get into the middle class," she said in the video.
Quinn, 46, who lives in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, would be the city's first female and openly gay mayor, if elected. Kim Catullo, whom she married in May, accompanied her on Sunday's tour.
Quinn's "Walk and Talk" tour took her through uptown Inwood in Manhattan, Foxhurst in the Bronx, Forest Hills in Queens, Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn and northern Staten Island. She vowed to boost jobs, build housing and improve schools. Quinn shook hands with seniors, ducked into delis to introduce herself and even boarded an MTA bus to greet the driver.
Vietnam War veteran Alfredo Martinez, 58, of Washington Heights, said, "It's about time a woman became mayor. She's for the working people, she's for the poor as far as housing."
But Quinn's vote as council speaker in 2008 against term limits haunted her. City law had imposed a two-term limit and would have prevented Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Quinn, as speaker, from serving third terms.
"You understand we voted twice for term limits?" Herbert Goldman, 77, of Forest Hills Gardens, asked her during her stop in Queens.
Quinn shook his hand cordially and responded, "I respect that for some people -- like you, sir, perhaps -- the decision I made will make it impossible for you to vote for me for mayor."
"Yes, it will," Goldman responded.
Earlier in the day, Quinn had said, "the term limits decision was one I made with many of my colleagues in a moment in time when we were faced with the worst economic crisis the city had seen since the Great Depression. And I thought in that moment it was fair to give New Yorkers the opportunity, if they chose, to send elected officials back or not."
Quinn, speaker since 2006, barely mentioned Wall Street or big business, cornerstones of Bloomberg's tenure. She also downplayed her potential to make history as a gay and female mayor, saying "all of who I am" had led her to where she is.
She enjoys high polling numbers in a crowded field, where Democratic hopefuls include Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson. Republican candidates include former MTA chairman Joe Lhota and supermarket executive John Catsimatidis.
A Quinnipiac University poll put Quinn at the head of the pack, with 37 percent, 3 percentage points shy of avoiding a runoff.