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Will Brockton elect a black, gay mayor?

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Ian David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:03 AM
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Will Brockton elect a black, gay mayor?

Will Brockton elect a black, gay mayor? It could happen.

Jass Stewart placed second in a three-way Sept. 20 preliminary election, which means he'll be squaring off against City Council President James Harrington in the Nov. 8 general election. (The current mayor, John Yunits, is not seeking re-election).

Stewart, who was endorsed early in his campaign by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national organization that helps elect openly gay candidates, picked up 28.6 percent of the vote to Harrington's 57.7 percent. That's a whopping gap to close in just a little over a month. But consider this: Stewart, a first-time candidate who moved to Brockton in 1999, had almost zero name recognition when he jumped into the race in September 2004. Harrington, on the other hand, has built a 16-year career in city politics. And while we know the old saw that "lawn signs don't vote," it's noteworthy that despite his low name recognition Stewart chose to forego the signs - as well as newspaper, radio and TV ads - in the preliminary campaign. While Stewart, who runs his own multimedia production company, does have a slick Web site ( ), most of his outreach to voters was done the old-fashioned way. "We got 30 percent of the vote by going door to door meeting people," Stewart explains. "And that's been our strategy from the very beginning leading up to the primary. The aggressive door-to-door campaigning will continue, he says, but Brocktonians can expect to see his name popping up on lawns, and in other media as well.

Stewart's election would be a historic first not just because he's gay. Though Brockton is a minority-majority city, it has never elected a black mayor. But Stewart, a married father of one son, has found that voters are concerned with more pressing issues than his race or sexual orientation. "There will be people who will not vote for me because I'm black or because I'm gay, and there will be people who will vote for me because I'm black and I'm gay," he acknowledges. But most voters are concerned about government working to bring jobs to the city, improving education and eradicating the city's persistent crime problem. "So when I'm walking around meeting with people, they're looking for a candidate who is serious about addressing those concerns - taking Brockton's most pressing issues and really turning them into Brockton's biggest opportunities," he says. "And that's been my message from the very beginning."

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