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Shai Baitel Headshot

A Worthy Candidate

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New York City is a tough place. And New Yorkers are a tough crowd. So it is no surprise that the city's Mayors and leadership are cut from the same cloth. From the indefatigable Ed Koch to Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg we have seen strong characters. While they certainly have not been without controversy, New York saw progress under each of them. The challenges that New York City faces ahead seem daunting but there is no doubt that future Mayors will approach them with chutzpa and can-do attitude.

While the next mayoral elections will take place only in 2013 it is worthwhile, however, to look at one out of the already crowded field of potential candidates -- a worthy candidate. For all intents and purposes, the current Speaker of the New York City Council, Christine Quinn, is the most dynamic and attractive among the group of early potentials for Mayor. At the present time she might be still coy about officially throwing her hat in the ring. But all things considered she should do so eventually. For the sake of New York City and all New Yorkers.

At a recent private event Quinn addressed serious topics of concern to New Yorkers, which only a short while later would also be reflected in her State of the City address. At a time when unemployment in New York City still hovers at 9 percent she proposed a new way to increase New York's financial stability by paying for a portion of the capital budget up front as opposed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's approach of cutting capital spending across the board. Having the capability of thinking outside the box? Check.

She also put her finger in the wound that is the city's pension and benefits system and urged all parties involved to work together to prevent harm to economic growth in the long run. Having an ability to see the big picture? Check. And while it is attractive to focus on the big players she has an impressive track record on paying attention to the small business community, the backbone of New York. Quinn worked on an initiative to increase lending throughout the five boroughs - by providing resources to small businesses struggling through the credit crunch - as well as a program aimed at reducing senseless bureaucracy and make New York City even more business friendly by streamlining the process for permits, licensing, and inspections. Displaying a remarkable sense of needs and opportunities for improvement? Check.

On education the City Council under Quinn's leadership chartered a new path that will that will connect individuals without a high school diploma to GED testing and test preparation courses. Responding to the need of providing help and opportunity? Check.

The digital media sector is doing well in New York City. That is not enough, however, in the view of Quinn and so she pointed to the need to connect researchers and entrepreneurs to each other and with funding, and mentorship. There should be no need to eventually move to Silicon Valley. So we now have the laudable initiative to create a thriving innovation economy, foster a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem and create lasting, good jobs in the hard sciences, specifically life sciences, engineering, material sciences and financial services technology. Having a sense for pushing boundaries of and charting new paths? Check.

One does not have to agree with each and every policy of Christine Quinn to be impressed by her. Meeting her and learning about her one understands that through hard work, vision, and perseverance, she champions the needs of working families, fights tenaciously for policies and services that are critical to New Yorkers big and small. She displays common sense, with her proposal to eliminate excessive ticketing being but one example. As some have put it, Quinn has justifiably gained a reputation for finding solutions, and pushing for policies that are out-of-the-box as well as fiscally responsible.

Christine Quinn is an individual encompassing often contradicting characteristics. She is genuine and sweet, but there will be times when her toughness is on display as well. She is youthful and energetic, but at the same time she is experienced and battle-hardened. She is one of the city's top politicians but she there is no elitism about her and she is at ease speaking to all New Yorkers -- from the worker to the CEO. And it is a tribute to Christine Quinn -- and to New York -- that her being gay is a non-issue. It does, however, add personal experience and special sensitivity when addressing questions of minorities, of equal rights and against discrimination. The fact that she is the first female City Council Speaker and might be the first female mayor of New York City is equally remarkable but, in the end, unremarkable.

New York has seen a distinguished line of mayors in the past and embraced the candidate with the most promise to make the city a better place. In Christine Quinn we can see leadership and values reflecting the cosmopolitan and diverse mosaic that is the Big Apple. The time is right for her and New York is ready for a woman in the top post. All things considered Christine Quinn would be a well deserved, powerful and astute and refreshing candidate to run the Greatest City in the World.