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Christine Quinn Kicks Off Campaign for Mayor With Five-Borough Tour

By Jill Colvin | March 11, 2013 8:04am

NEW YORK CITY — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn got an earful from voters across the city Sunday, as she kicked off her campaign for mayor with a five-borough tour that took her from Inwood to Bed-Stuy and Staten Island.

The eight-hour marathon, part of a pledge to visit every neighborhood in the city by Primary Day, was largely warmly received. Quinn — and her outsized personality — popped into pizza parlors, nail salons and supermarkets, shaking hands, giving bear hugs and making her pitch for why she should be the city's next mayor.

"Hi, I'm Christine Quinn. I'm running for mayor. Nice to meet you!" repeated Quinn, who was trailed through the day by a noisy gaggle of supporters chanting her name and waving signs. Also in attendance: Quinn's wife, Kim Catullo, her father, Larry, and a gaggle of grand-nieces, nephews and staffers' kids.

Despite her current position as the early frontrunner in the race, Quinn remained unknown to many she encountered on the tour. Others, however, excitedly greeted the familiar face in the fuchsia jacket being followed by camera crews.

"I've been watching her for as long as she's been in the public eye and at the moment she has my vote," said Carole Mulligan, 71, a school teacher and Eucharist minister at the Church of the Shepherd Church in Inwood, where Quinn's parents got married.

"I want to see a female mayor," she said.

In the South Bronx, the energy was on full display as city bus driver William Adams pulled his Bx5 bus to the curb when he saw Quinn and yelled out, "Hey Christine!"

Quinn bounded up the steps and burst onto the bus, greeting the passengers inside.

"She's got my vote and anyone who gets on my bus!" hollered Adams before he pulled away.

Others said they were leaning toward voting Quinn mainly because they didn't know anyone else in the race.

“Ms. Quinn’s been makin' a lot of noise, so I'm really familiar with her," said Zayid Walata, 52, who sells books on the the street in Bed-Stuy and said he didn't know any of the other candidates. "The other folks haven't made much noise."

But the reception was less positive in Forest Hills, Queens, where Herbert Goldman, 71, a retired electrical engineer, confronted Quinn over her controversial role in overturning term limits so that Mayor Michael Bloomberg could run again.

"Why did you push Bloomberg for a third term?!" Goldman demanded, interrupting an informal press conference that was underway.

After she finished, Quinn walked over to Goldman, grasped his hands and tried to address his frustrations.

"Clearly I think we disagree on the decision I made," she said. "I respect that for some New Yorkers the decision I made will make it impossible for you to vote for me for mayor."

After the heated exchange, Goldman said he actually liked the job Bloomberg had done but would never vote for Quinn because of the move.

"Absolutely not! I'm not voting for her," he said, criticizing her chummy approach.

Throughout the day, as she popped into restaurants and kibitzed with store owners and customers, Quinn also made it clear that — at least when it came to campaign style — she had little in common with the current mayor, who was often awkward during casual interactions with voters.

She also tried to play the role of one-man fix-it machine, frequently calling to staffers for a pen so she could jot down voters' contact info to follow up with city resources.

But some she encountered wanted more. At one point, while in Inwood, Quinn approached a homeless man slumped on a bench who promptly asked Quinn for change.

“I don’t have any with me. I’m sorry," she responded,

But by the time she reached her last stop in Staten Island, Quinn was better prepared. When an elderly woman said her car had been stolen and desperately needed cab fare to get home, Quinn subtly slipped the woman a couple of bills under a campaign flier.

The woman also asked Quinn for an autograph.