Out New York City council speaker Christine Quinn was a central figure in Thursday's divisive city council vote that extended term limits for most city officials from two consecutive four-year terms to three consecutive four-year terms. Citing the current financial crisis as rationale for a third mayoral term, Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced the term limit extension proposal, and Speaker Quinn -- who many speculated was likely to make a mayoral bid in 2009 upon Bloomberg's exit -- helped wrangle the final votes to push the bill through in a contentious 29–22 vote.
The new law overturns a two-term limit rule that has been twice approved by voter referenda, and it entirely reconfigures the landscape of the city's politics. Of the 35 council members who would have been forced to leave office in 2009, 23 of them voted for the extension, while only six of the 16 first-term council members supported it. The change leaves scores of people who had been targeting a 2009 bid for an open city council seat to choose between facing an incumbent or scrapping their campaign altogether. To date, a record setting 10 LGBT people were poised to run for city council next year.
Quinn has mostly enjoyed a reputation as a progressive reformer but has been criticized mightily for her decision to back Mayor Bloomberg's proposal. Yetta Kurland, an out lesbian who still plans to run for Quinn's seat next year, told the Gay City News, "I have considered myself a friend of Chris in the past. I am wholly in disagreement with her on this issue. I have been working to lovingly challenge her on this."
Mayoral hopefuls city comptroller William Thompson, Jr. and New York congressman Anthony Weiner have both said they will press on with their quest to succeed Michael Bloomberg. Following the vote, Thompson reportedly referred to Thursday as "the day democracy died."
"Despite the rising tide of opposition to a council vote, and in the face of a public poll that showed nearly 90% of New Yorkers wanting the issue put to a voter referendum, our city council decided to turn its back and close its mind," Thomspon said in a statement. "This is a sad day for New York." (Kerry Eleveld, The Advocate)