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It's been nearly two months since State Sen. Tom Duane announced that he will not seek re-election this fall, and the race for his seat in the 27th District is taking shape. Brad Hoylman, the solidly backed chair of Community Board 2, who before Duane's announcement was seeking Christine Quinn's City Council seat, will run opposed by two relative unknowns: Tom Greco, owner of the Ritz Bar and Lounge in the Times Square area, and Tanika Inlaw, a self-described educator, community outreach worker and mother of two who lives on the Upper West Side. Earlier this year, Duane revealed that he would not seek an eighth term in the state Senate, a post he was first elected to in 1998. Duane reported that he would instead be embarking on a "new chapter" in his life. As a politician, Duane was best known for helping "those who never before had a voice in the halls of government." An openly gay, HIV-positive legislator, Duane championed causes close to the LGBT community, including the Marriage Equality Act, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, the Dignity for All Students Act, comprehensive hate crime legislation and the Family Health Care Decisions Act. For his part, Hoylman, who is also out and is the parent of an 18-month-old girl, plans to continue Duane's trademark LGBT activism by supporting, among other legislation, the Gender Equality Non-Discrimination Act. "It's incredible that even today, transgender people can be fired from jobs or kicked out of their houses or even denied service in a restaurant," Hoylman said. He called gender equality one of the "last horizons of the LGBT community." Hoylman added that if elected, he would be the only LGBT person in the state Legislature. "I don't shy away from discussing being gay and I don't mind if reporters mention it. It's who I am," he said in an interview. Among other issues of concern to Hoylman are campaign finance reform, reducing class sizes and "changing the dynamic that currently exists where teachers are demonized in Albany." In a recent email to supporters, Hoylman touted his record of progressive results.
"I have helped secure two new public schools; won concessions from developers to scale back and mitigate inappropriate proposals; advanced landmarking and rezoning efforts that preserved historic buildings and neighborhoods; created an innovative legal defense fund for rent-stabilized tenants; and brokered a deal that allowed for the long-stalled renovation of Washington Square Park," Hoylman wrote to supporters last month. Amid the Democratic establishment, Hoylman's support is very strong and includes, most notably, Duane's endorsement, along with Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velazquez and Carolyn Maloney. Greco, while not a household name, believes he has much to offer the people of the 27th District as a state senator. Starting with affordable housing, Greco pointed out successful housing programs that should be revisited in the city. "I would like to bring a new program to New York State modeled after the Mitchell-Lama program, which to this day stands as one of the most successful housing programs ever established here," Greco said. "In a similar model, we can work with developers to make it fiscally advantageous for them to build new affordable housing, while strictly regulating that they do so through tax incentives and legislation." Regarding the always vexing health care issue, Greco believes a true public option is needed to better care for city residents. "While I am a supporter of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, I do not think it goes nearly far enough in addressing the country's health care concerns and out-of-control costs," he said. "It is my goal to bring a public option to New York similar to the successful program that has been instituted in San Francisco." Greco added that he, too, is concerned and involved with LGBT issues that affect the district. Greco founded the Ritz bar and lounge in September of 2006, after working for several years at POSH, another LGBT establishment owned by his family. "It has allowed me to use my name, resources and time to help the LGBT community," he explained. "Through the years I have had the privilege of using my business as a vehicle to help with LGBT causes, such as Heritage of Pride, AIDS Walk and Blades Against AIDS." Public school teacher Inlaw is an Upper West Sider who was born and raised in the city and previously worked in broadcast journalism on ABC's daytime talk show The View, as well as for ABC News Radio. Inlaw is also a former president of the Yonkers chapter of the NAACP, where she advocated to decrease overcrowded schools, increase home ownership opportunities, stabilize rents and increase the minimum wage. Discussing her difficult decision to run for state Senate, Inlaw wrote, "The lack of resources would deter most potential candidates from running against him [Holylman] due to his backing from deep pockets and well-established political roots, but I believe I was called to serve the people and conserve our community's right to a fair democracy." Issues that concern Inlaw include animal rights, affordable housing, affordable health care and marriage equality. "What sets me apart from the other candidates is my intuitive ability to relate to peoples' personal experiences. I am personally invested in our fight," Inlaw wrote in a statement.

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