By Grace Smith
“I would be an excellent speaker,” Charles Barron, the Democratic councilman from Brooklyn said today, and if another person of color doesn’t run against Christine Quinn in January, he will.
“We need someone to be a check on the Mayor, not a deputy mayor,” he said over the phone Thursday afternoon, pointing out that the speaker and the chairs of the two most powerful committees, land use and finance, have been “exclusively white.”
Barron says that others have told him that they’re “afraid to run against Quinn,” but he pointed to Thompson’s narrow margin of loss “in spite of not having the endorsement of Local 1199, Obama, Reverend Flake, and other prominent preachers” (Obama did end up endorsing Thompson, but SEIU Local 1199 stayed neutral).
Wayne Barrett pointed out in September that a minority majority in the council was likely, and after Tuesday, with Deborah Rose’s victory on Staten Island and Margaret Chin’s in Manhattan, that majority is an official 27-24. Both Rose and Chin replaced white men.
Barron said he does not approve of county leaders’ influence in selecting speaker candidates, but even looking at things in those terms, the numbers are stacked against Quinn. “You only need 26 votes. There’s an African American leader in the Bronx, 8 council votes in the Bronx, an African American county leader, with 10 council votes in Manhattan. And in Brooklyn a lot of us are. So even if you don’t have all of those on board, they could pick the next speaker. I think we could do it if we could stick together.”
Asked when he would be announcing his run, Barron replied “sooner than you think.”