Chirlane’s Council charm offensive

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Chirlane. (Bill de Blasio.)
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Incoming first lady Chirlane McCray has been reaching out to female City Council members to make inroads as she prepares her own role in her husband's administration.

McCray and members of Bill de Blasio's staff, working on her behalf, have contacted a host of female members recently, primarily to set up meetings or conversations with her, a de Blasio source confirmed.

The source did not say how many members she is meeting, but four members confirmed having heard from her.

"I had a request to meet with the first lady-elect, and I look forward to talking to her about the important issues in this city," Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, a Manhattan Democrat, told Capital.

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She plans to meet McCray Friday and said she will raise her concerns about the city, including public housing, the availability of prenatal care and other women's issues.

Mendez, who endorsed Christine Quinn over de Blasio in the Democratic mayoral primary, said a de Blasio staffer contacted her on McCray's behalf shortly before the general election.

"The staff person said they were calling on her behalf and she wants to meet with me and she would like to meet with others in this year," Mendez said. "She wanted to meet to talk about the issues that are important to me and important to her and how they could tackle them in the new administration."

Mendez said she was specifically told the discussion would not include the much-talked-about Council speaker's race.

Incoming councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said McCray, with whom she has a prior relationship, has reached out several times to check in on Cumbo's transition to elected office.

"She calls periodically just to check in, see how I'm doing with the office, how I'm doing with hiring of staff," Cumbo told Capital.

Cumbo said she met McCray when the incoming first couple and their children visited the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Fort Greene, which Cumbo founded.

A third member described the recent meeting with McCray as a friendly ice-breaker with "no agenda" other than discussing issues of importance to that member, who asked not to be named.

McCray, whose last job was with the Democratic consulting firm Mack/Crounse Group, played a critical role in her husband's successful election and has advised him on staffing decisions and other key aspects of his transition.

He has said she will be involved in the administration, but her title and role have not been specified.