Jim Owles Hosting First Mayoral Forum

jim owles flyer
The flyer for the October 13 mayoral forum hosted by the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.
Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, an LGBTQ political organization, is hosting six mayoral candidates on October 13 in the first forum dedicated to the 2021 race for the city’s top job.

The forum will bring several Democratic mayoral hopefuls together for the first time — albeit in a virtual format — and the candidates are likely to discuss a broad range of issues beyond questions of specific concern to the city’s LGBTQ voters.

The forum will be moderated by club president Allen Roskoff and is slated to include City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Dianne Morales, the former CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods, a non-profit provider of educational and career resources to young people and families in low-income neigbhorhoods, and former Obama administration official Shaun Donovan, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development and director of the Office of Management and Budget after spending five years as Mayor Michael Blomberg’s commissioner of Housing Preservation and Development here.

The Zoom forum comes at a time when the 2021 field is still shaping up. Stringer and Wiley launched their respective bids with a series of notable endorsements, while other high-profile candidates — including Adams — have yet to officially kick off their campaigns.

Meanwhile, out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who will deliver opening remarks at the forum, recently exited the race for mayor. Weeks later, another out gay city lawmaker — Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn — filed to run for mayor and announced in a tweet on October 9 that he has spent recent months “thinking a lot about our City and how we could do better, we must do better. Nothing is official… will share news soon.”

Jim Owles president Allen Roskoff.Donna Aceto

The forum will not include Loree Sutton, an out gay candidate who served as the first commissioner of the city’s Department of Veterans’ Services. The club opted not to invite Sutton because she supports requiring protesters to have a permit in order to hold demonstrations, according to the New York Post.

The club’s decision drew some flak — including from Sutton, who called it an “outrageous decision,” and the New York Post Editorial Board, which blasted the club for what it described as “a ridiculous litmus test for a Democratic mayoral debate.”

It should be noted that the event is a club’s forum, not a formal media-sponsored or otherwise official debate, and Sutton’s political views are indeed not aligned with the club. The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club bills itself as a “progressive” club and Sutton described herself last year in an interview with Gay City News as a “centrist.” Requiring that protests receive formal government approval is a position likely at odds with that of many progressives — and Democrats generally.

When asked during that 2019 interview about an issue that has surged to the forefront in LGBTQ political circles — the decriminalization of sex work — Sutton appeared to be on the fence, telling Gay City News she was “looking forward to learning more of different perspectives.”

Those who wish to attend the virtual forum, which begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, can register here.

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