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LGBT Activist Corey Johnson Wins Council Seat After Reportedly Heated Race

Report: Johnson, Opponent Yetta Kurland Made Harsh Countercharges
City Hall in Lower Manhattan (file / credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

City Hall in Lower Manhattan (file / credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gay rights activist Corey Johnson has won the nomination for the 3rd District City Council seat being vacated by Speaker Christine Quinn, following a contest described in published reports as “vicious.”

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Johnson won 63 percent of the Democratic primary vote, compared with 37 percent for opponent Yetta Kurland.

The race between Johnson and Kurland was called “nasty” in a New York Times report last week. While both candidates are openly gay and agree on many issues, they still took pointed snipes at each other, the newspaper reported.

A political action committee backing Johnson accused Kurland of mistreating employees at a language school she founded – allegedly failing to provide them health insurance, vacation and sick days or lunch breaks, the newspaper reported. Meanwhile, Kurland called the GFI Development real estate firm where Johnson once worked “shady,” and claimed the company had backed politicians who are against gay rights, the newspaper reported.

Johnson ran his campaign on “the values that exemplify our community: integrity, inclusiveness, and respect,” he wrote on his campaign Web site.

He told BuzzFeed’s Tony Merevick the city needs a social safety net so “people can actually live and survive here,” given that many residents can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood.

At his victory celebration Tuesday night, Johnson was joined by celebrities – including Tim Gunn and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, BuzzFeed reported.

He will face Republican Richard Stewart in the general election for the overwhelmingly Democratic district.

Johnson is one of three new openly gay City Council nominees. Carlos Menchaca defeated incumbent Sara Gonzalez in the 38th District in Brooklyn, while Ritchie Torres won 36 percent of the vote in a six-way race in the 15th District seat in the Bronx, according to Gay City News.

Openly gay incumbents Rosie Mendez (D-2nd), Daniel Dromm (D-25th) Jimmy van Bramer (D-26th) also won nomination for reelection Tuesday.

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