City Council Speaker Christine Quinn placed heavy emphasis on children, affordable housing and increased job efforts Thursday in her State of the City address.
Introduced by her father, Quinn began her address by touting the city’s rich diversity and ability to rely on its communities.
“Now more than ever, we need to tap into the power of our communities,” said Quinn. “We need to restore the promise that everyone can succeed in New York, no matter how humble their origins, with a bit of help and a lot of hard work.”
Quinn focused much of her hour-long speech on boosting New York’s attractiveness for middle-class families, including affordable housing and job creation efforts.
On the education front, Quinn said she will push for mandatory kindergarten for all of the city’s five-year-olds.
That plan would require legislative approval from Albany.
Quinn also proposed creating a low-cost health clinic for freelance workers and a loan program to help families pay for child care.
The program would target families earning between about $40,000 and $112,000 a year.
Quinn also proposed a plan to add money to the city’s public housing agency so it can repair more damaged apartments and to make it illegal to discriminate against unemployed New Yorkers looking for work.
In an effort to preserve affordable housing, she also pushed to change the requirements imposed on developers who receive city incentives.
“We need to create housing that’s not just affordable for a few years, but affordable for generations,” said the speaker.
It was a policy speech, to be sure, but also in many ways a political one. A leading candidate for mayor, Quinn hopes to be the first woman and first openly gay New Yorker to lead the city. But first she has to win over city voters.
“There’s an energy that’s created when New Yorkers come together. It’s like a chemical reaction. That energy is contagious, it lifts you up and literally carries you to greater heights,” said Quinn.
It’s too early to tell whether the State of the City speech would have a similar lifting effect on Quinn’s career.
Some of her potential Democratic rivals in the mayor’s race came out to hear the address.
“She’s been the speaker of the City Council for a little more than six years now and she’s good at it,” said City Comptroller John Liu.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, when asked if there were any plans of the speaker he would support, he answered, “Well, I’m obviously going to have discussions with the speaker and the staff and we’ll certainly look at issues that we’ll prioritize.”
The speech also gave Quinn the chance to give her colleagues credit on a big stage and lay the groundwork for a possible 2013 coalition. The speaker gave shoutouts to a whopping 30 members of the City Council. Last year, she only acknowledged 20.