By Grace Smith
At the start of her historic third term as council member, Christine Quinn will seek re-election to speaker. But the council she’ll be trying to sway will look substantially different. Two days ago, Wayne Barrett pointed out another likely historic council moment for January 2010: the first majority of minority council members. And if Quinn faces a minority challenger for speaker, there’s one white vote she can’t count on should the selection break down on color lines.
That’s Simcha Felder, the Orthodox Jew who represents the Boro Park section of Brooklyn. Felder didn’t vote for Quinn in 2006 (when the majority-minority edge was 26-25), though the Voice had to do some recounting to decipher the voting records sent to the paper by Quinn Communications Director Jamie McShane.
The 2006 vote was recorded as 49-0-1, with Charles Barron listed as the single abstainer. However, a separate roll call lists 50 “yes” votes, including Felder’s. When questioned about the discrepancy, McShane explained that Felder was marked that day as present, but was not in the chamber at the time of vote.
Felder wasn’t in the room? Why? Because Felder, “for religious reasons” could not bring himself to vote for Quinn, a lesbian.
When the Voice called Felder to ask why he didn’t simply abstain in 2006, his spokesperson Eric Kuo replied “he wasn’t in the room…He wasn’t allowed to 4 years ago for religious reasons.”
Asked if Felder planned to vote for someone other than Quinn in the future if he got the chance, Kuo responded, “She was elected in a unanimous vote last time. We don’t think it’s going to be any different.”