Queer candidates faltered in citywide and boroughwide competitions, but six LGBTQ City Council hopefuls across Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn appear to be in position to win their Democratic primary races and expand the LGBT Caucus in historic fashion.
The City Council contests were critical to boosting and diversifying an LGBT caucus consisting entirely of men — and the importance of queer representation became even greater after the five-member LGBT Caucus shrank to four when Ritchie Torres left his Bronx Council seat to succeed José E. Serrano in the 15th Congressional District.
Following the New York City Board of Elections’ latest unofficial results — with ranked-choice and absentee ballots factored in — the LGBTQ candidates leading on election night remained on top by July 6 and out lesbian candidate Kristin Richardson Jordan of Manhattan’s District 9 had a narrow lead over incumbent Councilmember Bill Perkins, though the results are not yet certified.
Jordan cleared the 50 percent threshold and clung to a 100-vote advantage over Perkins after all the ranked-choice rounds, putting her on the verge of history. Jordan and out Brooklyn Council candidate Crystal Hudson — who defeated Michael Hollingsworth in District 35 by more than 2,400 votes — would be the first out LGBTQ Black women elected to the City Council.
“H.A.R.L.E.M! We disrupted the district with #RadicalLove and broke the machine! Our community has been sold out by the establishment and we’re ready for change & new leadership,” Jordan wrote in a tweet after the latest results were announced on July 6. “We’re reviving Harlem’s Black radical history and putting the service back in public service.”
Hudson also chimed in on Twitter shortly after 7 p.m. on July 6, writing, “We won! Together, we built the biggest, broadest, & most diverse coalition to champion a vision of equity, justice, and dignity for all of our neighbors… From NYCHA residents to new tenants to long-time homeowners, we have reached every corner of our district & brought people together across class, culture, faith & generations. And together we are making history: I will be the first openly gay Black woman elected in NYC.”
History was also made in Queens, where out candidates Tiffany Cabán of District 22 and Lynn Schulman of District of District 29 remained in front and emerged as clear winners in their Democratic primary bids to become the first out LGBTQ women to represent the borough in the City Council. Cabán’s victory followed her narrow defeat in the 2019 race for Queens district attorney, while Schulman overcame multiple losses in previous City Council campaigns.
In a city with an overwhelming Democratic advantage, most of these races are not expected to be competitive in the general election competitions later this year. Should the primary results hold, women are now on track to represent a majority of the LGBT Caucus following an election cycle that saw significant gains in gender diversity across the City Council.
In Brooklyn, out queer candidate Chi Ossé — just 23 years old — easily won his primary race in the 36th District to succeed Robert Cornegy in the City Council. Ossé is set to be the first out LGBTQ Black person elected to city office from Brooklyn and he follows in the footsteps of Councilmember Carlos Menchaca as the only out LGBTQ councilmember to represent the most populous borough in New York City.
Erik Bottcher, running to replace his former boss, out gay Speaker Corey Johnson, secured a landslide victory in District 3 on election night and came away with 71.5 percent of the vote following seven rounds of ranked-choice voting. Bottcher will be the fourth consecutive out LGBTQ person to represent the district, following Thomas Duane, Christine Quinn, and Johnson.
Also in Manhattan, out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman fell short in his quest to become the first out gay borough president, as Councilmember Mark Levine hauled in nearly 100,000 votes to win that primary race. Out gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer finished in a distant third place in his own campaign for borough president in Queens, where incumbent Donovan Richards just barely staved off a challenge from former city lawmaker Elizabeth Crowley.
The spotlight in the citywide races was placed squarely on the Democratic primary for mayor, which saw Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams declare victory over former Sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia in a nail-biter. But in the hotly contested race for comptroller, Brooklyn Councilmember Brad Lander won his race against out gay Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who will be leaving office in January due to term limits.
Several other LGBTQ candidates ran unsuccessful campaigns for City Council seats across the city, including Josue Pierre, Jacqui Painter, and Wilfredo Florentino of Brooklyn; Marti Allen-Cummings, Jeffrey Omura, Chris Sosa, Phelan Dante Fitzpatrick, and Billy Freeland of Manhattan; and Amit Bagga, Aleda F. Gagarin, and Alfonso Quiroz of Queens. As of the most recent numbers, out Queens Civil Court candidate Michael Goldman is trailing in his bid to be the first out gay judge elected in Queens.
The City Council will continue to lack transgender and non-binary representation, though there were historic campaigns mounted recently by candidates such as Allen-Cummings, Alejandra Caraballo of Brooklyn, and Elisa Crespo of the Bronx.
All the current out LGBTQ councilmembers — with the exception of Daniel Dromm of Queens — ran for other seats, but only Torres emerged victorious. Menchaca unsuccessfully ran for mayor and the others lost their Democratic primary races this past month.