A recent speech by Christine Quinn, the Speaker of New York City’s council, has sparked rumours that she may run for Mayor.

Ms Quinn, a Democrat, is one of the most prominent lesbian politicians in America.

In her State of the City address earlier this month she said: “I want every New Yorker to hear me when I say: We are ready.”

Various commentators have interpreted this to be a clear signal she intends to run for Mayor of the city.

The current Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg’s second term of office comes to an end in 2009 and he is legally barred from seeking a third.

The city elected Democrat Mayors from 1918 to 1933 and 1946 to 1993, a hegemony broken by Rudi Giuliani.

Mr Bloomberg was elected as a Republican in 2001 but left the party last year.

GayCityNews, America’s largest circulation lesbian and gay newspaper, spoke to several leading New York figures who confirmed Ms Quinn’s candidacy.

The city’s Housing Authority Commissioner Margarita Lopez, who is also a lesbian, said:

“The beginning of her statement that said, “I’m ready” tells me that that’s what it’s about.

“And good for her. And more power to the women’s community.”

The dean for the Milano New School for Management and Urban Policy, Fred Hochberg, told the paper: “Of course she’s running.”

Ms Quinn, 41, was unanimously elected as New York City Council’s first woman and first openly gay Speaker in January 2006, becoming the second highest-ranking official in the city after the Mayor.

The role of the Speaker is to act as a check and balance to the executive authority of the Mayor.

It is a similar position to the chairman of the London Assembly.

In her 2006 acceptance speech Ms Quinn wept several times, thanking her father and her partner, Kim Catullo who were sitting in the public gallery.

She came to international attention in 2006 for refusing to march in the New York St Patrick’s Day parade because it banned gay groups from participating.

The New York parade is organised by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-Catholic fraternal organisation.

They have refused to allow gay and lesbian groups to march in the parade since 1991.

After becoming council speaker Ms Quinn, who is Irish-American, tried to make a deal with the organisers of the event. In 2007 she chose to march in Dublin instead.

If elected she would be the first woman to be Mayor of New York City and in charge of the largest municipal budget in the US.

The city government employs a quarter of a million people, educates 1.1 million children and spends more than $50bn (£35bn) a year.