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'LGBT in 2021' campaign aims to boost City Council representation

With all five openly LGBTQ Council members term-limited in 2021, it's a plan for the future.

Speaker Corey Johnson advocates for more LGBTQ representation

Speaker Corey Johnson advocates for more LGBTQ representation in the City Council on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

City Hall's high-profile elections are years away, but activists say it's not too early to push for better LGBTQ representation in the Council.

A group of activists joined several City Council members, including Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Wednesday and announced a grassroots initiative to mentor and promote queer and transgender candidates during the next Council term. All five Council members who are openly LGBTQ will be term-limited in 2021, and activists, including Harlem Pride president Carmen Neely, are concerned that the LGBTQ community may soon suffer a lack of representation in the governing body. 

"We need to find, recruit and promote as many candidates as we can," she said.

Neely and other advocates said their "LGBT in 2021" campaign is in the early stages, but their goal is to get those interested in running connected with the resources necessary to make their bid a viable one. Mentorships with current and past elected New York LGBTQ officials also will be a component of "LGBT in 2021."

Johnson said he got a boost in his career with the assistance of leaders such as former State Sen. Tom Duane and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and that he would gladly help up-and-coming representatives.

"We want to make sure we are seen and heard and elected," the speaker said. 

Other elected officials who pledged their support to the"LGBT in 2021" effort include Councilman Danny Dromm, and Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal. 

Neely said the effort does not have a list of candidates yet, but encouraged any LGBTQ New York City residents who are interested in pursuing public office to visit https://www.lgbtqin2021.nyc/ to get more resources.

"We're hoping that candidates come to us … and we take it from there," she said.

A spokesman for the campaign said it is still ironing out long-term plans, which could include fundraising. 

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