After more than a week of deliberation, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced Sunday afternoon that she has changed her position and will support Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s bid to overturn the city’s term-limits law.
Quinn, who is term limited herself, said a third Bloomberg term would offer the city a “continuity of leadership” in the wake of the current economic crisis.
“In these difficult times, I believe voters should have the choice to keep the current leadership of our city,” said Quinn, who said that the city is facing the challenge of a “global economic crisis.”
Quinn, a previous supporter of term limits, said she changed her position in the last couple of days, after talking to her colleagues in the council, other city legislators and her constituents.
She also insisted that no deal was reached with the mayor.
“There have been no concessions, no quid-pro-quo, no promises or anything of that nature from the mayor’s office and my office on this matter. This is a change in my position, and that is not something I do lightly,” said Quinn. “It is not something I typically like to do. I’ve fought long and hard, that’s why it took me longer than some might have liked to come to this position.”
Quinn said that city voters should be given the choice of supporting incumbent politicians in the 2009 municipal elections, but did not mention two previous referendums that voted down term limits.
She said that for the last three years, bipartisan lawmakers in the council collaborated to cut city spending and balance the budget.
Following Quinn’s announcement, a spontaneous protest arose in City Hall by the satirical group “Billionaires for Bloomberg.”
Outside, on the steps of City Hall, opponents of the bill had harsh words for the speaker.
“I believe she’s exercising poor judgment, bad judgment, and she’s being led by naked ambition,” said Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James.
Brooklyn-Queens Representative Anthony Weiner, a mayoral hopeful, pressed for term limits to go before voters.
“To say that having 51 people decide and substitute their wisdom for the wisdom for the millions of New Yorkers who decided this twice is simply illogical and wrong,” said Weiner.
The City Council will hold public hearings on the legislation on Thursday and Friday, during which many council members could make up their minds on the matter.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the surprise decision ten days ago to seek a change to the city’s term limit law which, if enacted, would allow Bloomberg and more than three dozen other city officials to run for for re-election next year.
Quinn said if the law is amended, she would seek another term in office and re-election as council speaker. She cannot run for City Council again unless this law is amended.