NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The 2020 election was historic not just on turnout, but because of the new faces going to Capitol Hill.
Two local incoming Congressmen will be the first and only on many fronts.
This election season, residents in the South Bronx and Westchester and Rockland counties cast their ballots to make history.
“Who would’ve thought the first openly LGBTQ elected official in New York City would come not from Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen, but from the South Bronx?” Congressman Elect Ritchie Torres said.
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Both Torres and Mondaire Jones are now the only Afro-Latino and Black openly gay members of Congress.
“To grow up poor, Black and gay is to not see yourself anywhere,” Jones said.
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Both men coming from similar backgrounds and ascended up the ranks.
“To get over the oppressions that it takes to run for office, to gain access to the ballot, to actually mobilize communities. Mondaire Jones won in a district that is 58% white. That’s huge,” said Shijuade Kadree, chief advocacy officer for the LGBT Community Center. “Both Ritchie and Mondaire are brilliant and accomplished and seen as quote unquote electable, but they wouldn’t have been even 10 years ago.”
It’s why Jones calls this a watershed moment.
“We are now able to use our lived experiences to inform the policy-making discussions,” Jones said.
Jones and Torres now become the example to others that they personally never had.
“If you are a young kid, a young kid of color or an LGBT kid or a poor kid from the Bronx, I hope you can see your story in me,” Torres said.
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Torres and Jones want to champion mainstream issues, like the impact COVID has had on their communities.
But they plan to do it from a first-hand understanding that they say addresses concerns of many more people in their communities.
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