Out gay Bronx City Councilmember Ritchie Torres is mulling a potential run for Congress, he confirmed to Gay City News on Thursday.
The second-term lawmaker is eyeing a campaign to unseat longtime Bronx Congressmember José E. Serrano in the 2020 Democratic primary. Torres’ interest in the race was first reported in The New York Times. Serrano, 75, has served in the House of Representatives since 1990.
The 30-year-old Torres, who is the first openly gay elected official from the Bronx, was just 24 years old when he ascended to the Council with his 2013 election victory. Torres said in an interview with Gay City News at the time that his own life story was one that reflected the district in which he was running.
“I lived in poverty all my life,” he said in August of 2013. “I grew up in the projects, attended public schools that were under threat of closure. Growing up it was a struggle to put food on our table, to pay the rent. When I speak to people I can say, ‘Your story is my story.’”
Torres, who remains the youngest member of the city’s lawmaking body, ran unsuccessfully for City Council speaker in a 2017 race that was ultimately won by another gay councilmember, Chelsea’s Corey Johnson.
Torres has remained highly visible in his role as a legislator, most recently proposing a law banning businesses from going cashless and another to create a web portal to track whether city agencies are following through with recommendations from the Department of Investigation.
Torres is currently the chair of the powerful Committee on Oversight and Investigation, which has authority to probe matters related to city government, property, and other affairs as well as the Department of Investigation.
Having grown up in public housing, Torres has often taken the lead on issues surrounding the New York City Housing Authority and previously served as the chair of the Committee on Public Housing. Torres, along with Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams and Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, provided Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders with a tour of Howard Houses in Brownsville ahead of New York’s Democratic primary election during the 2016 presidential race.
Torres is term-limited from his current post as of January 1, 2022. If elected to Congress, Torres would presumably join Sean Patrick Maloney as the only LGBTQ congressmembers from New York.