I first met Chris Quinn in person three years ago. She came to a Startup Weekend and gave a speech about how New York wasn't doing such a great job supporting tech entrepreneurship. It was frustrating, because we had come such a long way, and having a public figure deride our progress and tell the world we're not doing a good job wasn't going to help the situation. Sure, we could always do better, but by focusing on the negative, it would have the effect of scaring off people who wanted to build their business here.
So, I got an introduction to her and her staff and invited her to come to an event I was throwing at Madison Square Park so she could meet the entrepreneurs firsthand and hear about the growing businesses we had. I introduced her to Dennis Crowely and Anthony Casalena who were both coming off hugely successful fundraises.
That's when I first got exposure to one of her best qualities--she listens. She considers new information carefully and is open to revising her thinking based on new data.
Since then, her staff has been open and extremely responsive with regards to issues around tech and entrepreneurship. Her support made the Brooklyn Tech Triangle study possible and I'm always getting questions from her team about making sure their policies are keeping the fast growing tech sector in mind.
But her effort and responsiveness in the tech sector isn't why I'm supporting Chris. It's her empathy. She got to witness one of the most well run administrations any city has ever seen--so she's got enough experience seeing the operational side to make this city work. However, I think most New Yorkers can agree that if there's one thing that we've felt that has been a bit missing, it's on the softer side of dealing with the public. Mike Bloomberg was effective, but a lot of people have felt like the city's policies and efforts didn't extend to as wide and diverse a community as possible--and that we built something that looks a little more like a well-run machine than a caring community.
That's what I've experienced firsthand from Chris Quinn--in a way that I'm not sure her campaign is doing a good job representing. If you ever catch her backstage at an event or after a taping, she's genuinely charming and really loves meeting people. She actually seems to be at her best off camera. My friend works at the Joy Behar show on the production side and couldn't wait to tell me how Chris won her over in person--and this was someone who had been somewhat lukewarm about her at best. If you want to like Chris Quinn, find a way to meet her is all I can say. Personally, I think their campaign team should just have a camera trail her 24/7 and release documentary style videos all day--kind of like when we got to see Obama getting burgers.
For I don't know how long, Chris has been subscribed to my weekly tech newsletter, and do you know when I hear from her? Not when I write about tech--it's when I write about myself. If I mention my mom's health issues or the fact that I'm travelling, she's quick to respond from her phone with a "Get home safe!" or "Hope things turn out ok." For over a decade, the Bloomberg administration has put together processes that make this city work--extremely well. My sense is that Chris Quinn is the best person to make sure these are processes that work for *everyone* in such a way that you feel like a person living here, instead of a number.
This next administration is not going to be an easy one. The next mayor will have to deal with unions, pension reform, and the challenge of keeping up the city's economic growth--but these are things that can't be done by a machine. They need to be handled delicately, by someone who will care about competing demands and limited resources.
I know there are a handful of tech folks supporting Jack Hidary, and I got to meet Jack recently. He's a great guy and I really hope he decides to stay in public service. I wish he would have set his sights on a council position or something like that, because the city is a complex machine that demands some more experience. He should be in public service, but if you want someone who understands and has already supported the tech community who has the qualifications to be Mayor, I can tell you firsthand that person is Chris Quinn.
I'm voting for Chris Quinn not because she's not the other guy, but because she's the best person for the job, and in my experience, the best person I've ever met in government.