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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002
x-Christine C. Quinn, Dem 28,515 - 74 percent
Michelle Bouchard, Rep 10,172 - 26 percent
Incumbent: Christine Quinn
Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign
to Michelle Bouchard
to Christine Quinn
Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District
3 candidates' statements on the issues, at Savvyvoter.org
Problems in Bohemia?
For decades, the neighborhoods that make up district 3 were the
heart of bohemian America, a beacon for rebels from the radicals
of the 1920s to the hippies of the 1960s. Today, though, in the
bistros and along the narrow streets, it is harder to hear arguments
over art or poetry than it is complaints about loud nightclubs
and looming real estate development. But while the area has become
less avant garde than it was in its heyday, it remains one of
the few places in America where a key political contest would
pit a lesbian activist incumbent against a gay political organizer
and former night club operator.
Incumbent Christine Quinn is running for re-election in a district
that stretches from SoHo to 55th Street, but whose politics tend
to focus around Greenwich Village and Chelsea, the gay center
of New York. In February 1999, she won the special election for
the council seat vacated by Tom Duane when he left for the New
York State Senate. Quinn served as Duane's chief of staff for
five years, then ran the New York Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence
Project. Challenging Quinn in the Democratic primary is Victor
Mendolia, an activist who lists among his accomplishments helping
to set up picket lines at age 14, organizing protests, and co-chairing
the New York Outreach Committee of ACT UP, the AIDS activist group.
In an area that attracts people who want to be part of "the scene,"
the many nightclubs create tensions among club goers, the community
and public officials. Mendolia, who used to own the Limbo Lounge,
has said Quinn is too critical of the clubs and cites this as
a key issue.
"Because of the Giuliani clampdown on clubs," he says, owners
won't allow information about safer drug use to be distributed.
"This would help save lives. . . .We need to create an atmosphere
where these issues can be discussed rationally." Mendolia proposes
the appointment of mediators to settle disputes between clubs,
community residents and the police and to encourage club owners
to be more responsible for loud activity on their sidewalks. "Nine
times out of ten, noise is the issue that disturbs residents,"
Outside of the conflict over the clubs, the two candidates share
many views. Both agree that overdevelopment is a problem in the
district. Concerns over this have reached as far north as Hell's
Kitchen, the formerly low income neighborhood that has become
the site of recent struggles over zoning changes that would allow
Quinn has gone on record as opposing a 26-story residential tower
in Hudson Square. She cites gentrification and displacement as
threats to neighborhood residents and notes the "lack of open
and recreational space" in the community.
Mendolia also stresses the importance of getting landmark status
to protect areas such as the Village waterfront and the Meat Market
around 14th Street.
The thriving heart of the gay community in New York, district
3 has the largest number of AIDS cases in the city. When asked
about her accomplishments as Council Member, Quinn pointed primarily
to her work to improve the city's delivery of social services
to those infected with HIV/AIDS. The city's Division of AIDS Services
(DAS) "is failing to meet its mandate of housing people with AIDS,"
she says. Quinn has worked to set up "DAS Watch" that brings community
members into Division of AIDS Services offices to make sure the
agency does its job right, and that "the office stays open until
everyone is housed."
Other accomplishments she has cited: she was prime sponsor of
a bill that would extend New York's Human Right Law to cover "gender
identity or expression." She has also sponsored a bill that would
require city contractors to offer full domestic partnership benefits
to employees covered under that contract or living in New York
City. Neither bill has yet to become law.
Mendolia charges that Quinn's leadership style has "alienated
many in the community and on the City Council," and that Quinn
has had differences with the influential Village
Independent Democrat. In previous campaign she snubbed the
influential club. This year, though, she extended the olive branch
and received the group's endorsement.
For her part, Quinn says she welcomes Mendolia's challenge as
being good for the democratic process. She says she looks forward
to seeing the "new energy" that will come into the council after
many of her colleagues leave because of term limits, but also
points out the importance of having the City Council run efficiently
after the big changeover.
Quinn has the obvious advantage of being one of just 16 incumbents
eligible to seek re-election. Mendolia acknowledges that he doesn't
have the support of the political establishment, but sees support
from the grassroots community as his biggest asset.
Quinn's only Democratic challenger, Victor Mendolia, dropped
out of the race. "I had sudden medical problems that came up that
made me unable to continue," Mendolia says. "I regret it, because
I really believe the incumbent is running in an improper manner.
It's political machine politics of the old school." But Quinn's
path to reelection is not totally unimpeded, as Michelle Bouchard
has joined the race for District 3, running as a Republican.
The single mother of an eleven-year-old son, Bouchard advocates
paying teachers more and requiring good teacher performance. She
sees a stronger role for community involvement in education. "We
should get the theater and not-for-profit communities involved"
in helping to provide arts education in the schools, she says.
Bouchard, who has been technology director for two on-line companies,
believes the Internet can help improve city services, making it
easier for people to report problems and get information. She
even envisions on-line parent-teacher conferences, where possible.
Although running as a Republican, Bouchard points to her "liberal
stances" on issues like same-sex partner rights and adoption and
says that half of her campaign staff are registered Democrats.
Michelle Bouchard was born in Liberty, Texas but has lived
in New York City for 17 years. She has worked as director of technology
at Hoover's Online, an Internet business information provider,
and The REALM, a real estate software company. Previously she
was founder and director of the 42nd Street WorkShop theater company.
This is her first time running for public office, although before
entering college she was a page for the first President Bush.
She has a BA in political science from Wellesley College, and
has one son.
Christine Quinn was elected as Council member for district
3 in 1999. She served as chief of staff to Councilmember Tom Duane
for five years, working on housing, eductation, environmental
issues and sexual harassment. Prior to that, she was the lead
organizer for the Housing Justice Campaign, an activist project
of the Association for Neighborhood Housing Development. She grew
up in Glen Cove, Long Island, and has a degree in Urban Studies
and Education from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
As one of only four incumbent Council members who could keep office
until 2009, could Christine Quinn become City Council's first
openly gay Speaker? ( The
Quinn takes part in union rally at Jefferson Market. (The
Quinn attends announcement of new mayoral funding for the Chelsea
Rec Center. (The
After some fierce political squabbles, Christine Quinn makes peace
with the Village Independent Democrats. (The
Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats have endorsed Christine
Quinn for the 2001 election. Both candidates' responses to the
group's questionnaire is on line.: Quinn:
Quinn opposes 26-story building at Hudson Square. (The
Quinn takes the Waverly Division of AIDS Services to task for
allegedly leaving confidential files of clients with AIDS out
on the sidewalk. (ACT