Former New York City Department of Veterans’ Services commissioner Loree Sutton, an out LGBTQ candidate for mayor, is exiting the race with approximately three months remaining until the Democratic primary.
“Today I am announcing my decision to step aside from my candidacy for mayor of New York City,” Sutton said in an announcement posted on YouTube. “When I entered this race, I felt compelled to offer a different kind of leadership as a doctor, a general, and a commissioner. Our city is enduring the effects of this COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated existing issues, racial inequity, economic disparity, and has led to the fraying of our tattered social, civic, and cultural fabric. My prayer for our city is that the next mayor will have the capacity to address and heal these wounds.”
In an email to supporters, Sutton — who did not elaborate on what went into her decision to exit the race — called on fellow mayoral candidates to form a “Recovery Coalition to Save Our City,” which she said would help “support the new mayor in setting the essential conditions for recovery.”
The departure of Sutton, a retired US Army brigadier general who identifies as gay, came as little surprise in a crowded field of 2021 hopefuls aiming to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio. Sutton entered the race without having ever been elected to public office, though she hoped her previous roles in city leadership and in the military would propel her campaign to success. That never happened — and a recent poll reflected that. The WPIX-TV/NewsNation/Emerson College poll released this month showed Sutton with zero percent of the vote among respondents who were asked about their first choice in the mayoral race. Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang led the way in that poll, garnering 32 percent, followed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who stood at 19 percent.
In an interview with Gay City News in 2019, Sutton described herself as a “centrist” who sought to forge relationships, find common ground, and draw from different sides of the political spectrum. She recalled working her way up through the military, where she was forced to remain closeted for many years under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but still managed to rise to become the founding director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and embark on tours that took her to places like Egypt, Saudia Arabia, and Iraq.
She eventually made her way to New York in 2013 and initially received an appointment to lead the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Services, which later morphed into the Department of Veterans’ Services.
While Sutton failed to gain traction in the race, she did manage to gain some attention at times. She was embroiled in a controversy last year when she was excluded from a mayoral forum hosted by the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, a citywide LGBTQ club, because she supported requiring protesters to acquire a permit before holding demonstrations. She blasted her exclusion from that event as an “outrageous decision.”
Sutton did, however, participate in a recent mayoral forum hosted by another LGBTQ club, the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn. Other LGBTQ mayoral candidates participating in that forum were out gay City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn and non-binary rapper Paperboy Prince.
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