Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s unimpressive win in her Chelsea district, garnering only 52 percent of the vote in a three-person race, has raised questions in many minds about whether she’ll be able to hang on to her leadership post when the 51 members vote next January. There may be as many as 18 new faces in the council, compared with when she was elected speaker in 2006 (that includes the departure of councilmembers like Mike McMahon, who was elected to congress in 2008, as well as the legion of changes this year).
What’s most remarkable is the changing of the guard in Queens, which has long been Quinn’s outer borough base. If Tom White loses (he’s ahead by six votes in the count right now), only four of the 14 councilmembers will be the same.
Remarkably, two gay candidates, Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer, beat candidates backed by the Queens Democratic organization yesterday to become the first gays elected to the council outside of Manhattan. Quinn pointed that out to me in an interview this morning, acknowledging that she didn’t support either of them, endorsing incumbent Helen Sears against Dromm. She says she was neutral in the race between Van Bramer and Deirdre Feerick for the seat vacated by Public Advocate candidate Eric Gioia. Quinn also backed Karen Koslowitz, who narrowly defeated another gay candidate, Lynn Schulman. They were competing for an open seat vacated by comptroller candidate Melinda Katz. While Quinn might be expected to endorse an incumbent like Sears, she had the maximum flexibility to endorse whomever she wanted in races for open seats.
Quinn called Dromm “a very, very dear friend,” and pointed out that she defended him when he was attacked during the campaign about a youthful arrest. “There are now four gay members of the council, the most ever,” she tells the Voice. “I’m very excited about the fact that we’ve doubled the size of our caucus.”