Sunday, March 25, 2007

Staten Island May Elect First Openly Gay Official

On Tuesday, amid some ugly local politics, NYC borough Staten Island may elect its first openly gay official:

The Staten Island contest is one of two special elections in the city on Tuesday. The second is also on Staten Island, on the south shore, and will determine the successor to former Assemblyman Vincent M. Ignizio, who was elected to the City Council in a special election on Feb. 20.

Of the two, the race in the 61st Assembly District on the north shore, has created the most fireworks. Staten Island is the one borough in heavily Democratic New York City that usually elects Republicans —from Congress to City Council. But the north shore is where Democrats typically do best.

For that reason, many island politicians expect the Democratic candidate in the Assembly race, Matthew Titone, to win. Mr. Titone, 46, a lawyer who ran unsuccessfully for a State Senate seat last year, has been endorsed by most prominent Democratic officials in the city and the borough. They contend that the election of an openly gay candidate like Mr. Titone would be an important milestone for the borough.

Mr. Titone said that his election would indeed be “an exciting thing,” but that he was most concerned about finding ways to increase health care financing in the borough, reducing class sizes in the Assembly district’s schools and making prekindergarten programs available for all 4-year-olds.