Ritchie Torres

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Ritchie Torres
Ritchie Torres 2015.jpg
Member of the New York City Council
from the 15th district
Assumed office
January 1, 2014
Preceded byJoel Rivera
Personal details
Born (1988-03-12) March 12, 1988 (age 31)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationNew York University
WebsiteGovernment website

Ritchie Torres (born March 12, 1988) is an American politician from New York. A member of the Democratic Party, he is the New York City Councilmember for the 15th district. Elected in 2013, he is the first openly gay candidate to be elected to legislative office in the Bronx, and the youngest member of the city council. He serves as the chair of the Committee on Public Housing, and is a deputy majority leader. In July 2019, he announced his bid for the United States House of Representatives for New York's 15th congressional district.

Early life and career[edit]

Torres, who is black and Latino,[1] was raised by his mother in a public housing project in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx, where he was frequently hospitalized for asthma as a result of the mold growing in his apartment.[2] He said, of growing up economically disadvantaged in “slum conditions”, “I was raised by a single mother who had to raise three children on minimum wage and I lived in conditions of mold and vermin, lead and leaks.”[3] He was upset by the $100 million city-subsidized Trump Gold Links built “across the street” in Ferry Point Park, rather on housing for struggling New Yorkers.[3] He vowed then to fight for their well-being.[3] In junior high he realized he was gay but did not come out fearing homophobic violence.[4]

He attended Herbert H. Lehman High School, served in the inaugural class of the Coro New York Exploring Leadership Program, and later worked as an intern in the offices of the Mayor and Attorney General.[5][6]

Torres enrolled at New York University but dropped out at the beginning of his sophomore year, suffering from severe depression.[6] He struggled with suicidal thoughts based on his sexuality.[4] As he recovered, Torres resumed working for council member James Vacca, eventually becoming Vacca's housing director.[6] In that role, Torres conducted site inspections and document conditions, ensuring critical housing issues were promptly and adequately addressed.[5][7]

New York City Council[edit]

At 24 years old, Torres ran to succeed Joel Rivera as the councilmember for the 15th district of the New York City Council.[8][9] The district includes Allerton, Belmont, Bronx Park, Claremont Village, Crotona Park, Fordham, Mount Eden, Mount Hope, Norwood, Parkchester, Tremont, Van Nest, West Farms and Williamsbridge in the Bronx.[5]

When he won the Democratic Party nomination for New York City Council, Torres became the first openly gay political candidate in the Bronx to win the Democratic Party nomination, and is the first openly gay public official in the Bronx.[10][11]

Upon his election, Torres requested the chairmanship of the Council's Committee on Public Housing, tasked with overseeing the New York City Housing Authority.[12] He made “the living conditions of the city’s most underserved residents a signature priority”.[1] In this role he helped secure $3 million for Concourse Village, Inc., “a nearly 1,900-unit housing cooperative located in the South Bronx”.[1] According to 2010 United States Census data the South Bronx is among the poorest districts in the nation.[3] The cooperative is subsidized by the Mitchell-Lama Housing Program, offering “income-restricted rentals and below-market value buy-in for co-ops”.[1]He also secured nearly $1 million to renovateDennis Lane Apartments, a Mitchell-Lama co-op in the heart of his district.[1]

Torres also serves as a Deputy Leader of the City Council, making him the only freshman Council Member to hold a leadership position.[13]

U.S. House of Representatives bid[edit]

Torres has stated that he is "intent on advancing politically," and has been floated as a future candidate for mayor of New York City.[14] His “goal is to be a “national champion for the urban poor.”[4]

In July 2019, Torres announced his bid for a seat in the United States House of Representatives for New York's 15th congressional district.[15] If elected he would be the first openly gay Black or Latinx member of Congress.[15] Torres’ main opponent is Rubén Díaz Sr.,[4] a Pentecostal minister, who does not believe in gay marriage,[15] and openly stood in opposition to same-sex marriage.[16] According to The New York Times, Díaz has “a decades-long history of making homophobic remarks”.[4] He is also a conservative Democrat who stated in February 2019, that city council was “controlled by homosexuals”; in response the council dissolved a subcommittee he chaired.[3] The two will be vying for votes in the June 2020 primary.[17] As of July 2019, Torres has raised $500,000, while Díaz has raised $80,000.[4] Torres is endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, and Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus (Equality PAC).[4]

Election history[edit]

Election history
Location Year Election Results
NYC Council
District 15
2013 Democratic Primary √ Ritchie Torres 36.12%
Joel Rivera 21.39%
Cynthia Thompkins 20.97%
Albert Alvarez 8.99%
Raquel E. Batista 7.42%
Joel M. Bauza 5.11%
NYC Council
District 15
2013 General √ Ritchie Torres (D) 91.15%
Joel Rivera (R) 7.19%
Joel M. Bauza (Conservative) 1.46%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Geringer-Sameth, Ethan. "Campaigning for Congress, Torres Touts City Funding Secured for Development Outside Council District". Gotham Gazette. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  2. ^ Ross, Winston. "Ritchie Torres: Gay, Hispanic and Powerful". newsweek.com. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Brown, Nicole (July 16, 2019). "South Bronx congressional primary will be one to watch". A.M. New York. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Mays, Jeffery C. (July 15, 2019). "He's Gay. His Main Opponent Makes Homophobic Remarks". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Biography". council.ny.gov. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Gonnerman, Jennifer. "Fighting for the Poor Under Trump". newyorker.com. The New Yorker. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  7. ^ "Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. endorses Ritchie Torres for City Council seat". NY Daily News. August 6, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  8. ^ Kappstatter, Bob (May 16, 2013). "Will the real Joel please stand • Bronx Times". Bxtimes.com. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  9. ^ Colin Campbell (March 14, 2013). "24-Year-Old Council Candidate Collecting Money and Endorsements". Observer. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  10. ^ "Riding Widespread Institutional Support, Torres and Cohen Breeze to Primary Wins". Norwood News. September 11, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  11. ^ "Ritchie Torres, Bronx City Council Race Frontrunner, Among 3 Openly Gay Candidates In Historic Election". Huffingtonpost.com. June 13, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  12. ^ Gonnerman, Jennifer. "Fighting for the Poor Under Trump". newyorker.com. The New Yorker. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  13. ^ "Biography". council.ny.gov. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  14. ^ Barkan, Ross. "Could This 27-Year-Old Councilman Be the Mayor of New York One Day?". observer.com. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Gremore, Graham (July 15, 2019). "This gay millennial is challenging a 76-year-old homophobe for a NY Congressional seat". www.queerty.com. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  16. ^ "N12 Bite: Teen girls to take over the Bronx soon, a gay councilman to challenge his allegedly homophobic counterpart and more". bronx.news12.com. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  17. ^ "2020 Dem primary looms large for Bronx Congressional seat". WPIX 11 New York. July 16, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2019.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Joel Rivera
New York City Council, 15th District
2014–present
Incumbent