PHOTO: New York Daily News
While much of the nation's attention was focused on Bill de Blasio's impressive in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, there were a number of historic wins in the outer boroughs that deserve attention.
Twenty-five-year Ritchie Torres won his primary in the Bronx's District 15 and is likely to become the first openly LGBT elected official in that borough. Torres won with 36% of the vote in a 6-way race. The Bronx-born Puerto Rican had support from labor, political groups and his former boss, East Bronx councilman Jimmy Vacca, reported Paul Schindler in Gay City News.
For an out gay man of his age running in a borough he noted has seen “a wave of social conservatism,” Torres has made impressive strides. He has earned a blizzard of union endorsements — from the Central Labor Council, healthcare workers at SEIU 1999, buildings service workers at SEIU 32BJ, transit and sanitation workers, teamsters, and the United Federation of Teachers, as well as the Working Families Party.
He is also supported by State Senator Gustavo Rivera — a reformer who ousted Bronx legend Pedro Espada, recently sentenced to federal prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a non-profit he controlled — and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., the scion of another Bronx dynasty who parts ways with his infamous father on gay rights issues.
Torres has worked for Councilman Vacca since he was 18-years-old. Very impressive.
Their only community center closed last year, gay-centric social spots are scarce and the streets can still feel unsafe for same-sex couples, some say. Not only has there yet to be an openly gay Bronx legislator, but it was a Bronx state senator, Ruben Diaz Sr., who cast the lone Democratic vote in that chamber against the state’s 2011 same-sex marriage law.
All of which makes the entry of three openly gay candidates — including the apparent frontrunner — into a single City Council race in the heart of the borough seem so remarkable to some. "That to me would be a huge victory," said Antonio Centeno Jr., former board chairman of the now-defunct Bronx Community Pride Center.
The general election is in November. The district overwhelmingly skews Democratic and Ritchie Torres is heavily favored to win.
Three gay newcomers won their primaries yesterday for New York City Council, including R20 friend Corey Johnson in Manhattan and Carlos Menchaca in Brooklyn. Three incumbents won their respective primaries: Queens Councilmen Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer, as well as Councilwoman Rosie Mendez of Manhattan.