Hoylman Takes Oath to Replace Duane in Albany
BY RYAN BUXTON | As Brad Hoylman sat on the stage of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Haft Auditorium, he held two things: the hand of his partner David Sigal and a Bible.
Moments later, Hoylman placed his palm on that Bible — the same one Sigal used during his bar mitzvah — and took an oath to officially become the state senator for New York’s 27th District.
Hoylman’s swearing-in ceremony, hosted by FIT on the afternoon of January 13, marked the culmination of a campaign that saw the 47-year-old lawyer handily triumph over fellow Democrats Tom Greco and Tanika Inlaw to claim the seat vacated by State Senator Tom Duane.
Just days earlier, Hoylman traveled to Albany for the first day of the 2013 legislative session — beginning his representation of several of Manhattan’s highest-profile neighborhoods, including Chelsea, Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village and parts of the Upper West Side, Midtown/East Midtown, the East Village and the Lower East Side.
During his remarks, Hoylman invoked Hubert Humphrey’s moral test of government to reveal the internal compass he plans to use in navigating the state legislature. Paraphrasing the 38th Vice President of the United States, Hoylman asserted that leaders should be judged by how they treat “those in the dawn of life; those in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those in the shadows of life — the sick, the needy, the handicapped.”
“You’ve sent me to Albany with a mandate to make sure our government passes this moral test,” Hoylman said to a room of cheering supporters.
The new senator vowed to fight for his constituents in efforts to reform laws on campaign finance and rent regulation, keep water safe from fracking, ensure New York City’s fair share of education dollars and expand options for LGBT parents, among other issues.
A host of powerful Democrats (including U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn) attended the ceremony, to congratulate Hoylman and share their high expectations for his work in Albany.
Duane was on hand to officially pass the torch. The former senator got emotional as he expressed the accomplishments he expects of his successor at the state capitol and the impact Hoylman has had on Duane’s life.
“On a personal level, as my friend, he has never let me down,” Duane said. “During the most difficult period of my life, he was completely and totally there for me and supportive in a way that so very few people were.”
Duane offered concrete thanks for it all with a gift — neckties for Hoylman and his partner and a stuffed dog for their nearly two-year-old daughter Silvia, who clutched the toy with joy and kept it close throughout the rest of the afternoon.
Speaker after speaker warned Hoylman that he has big shoes to fill as Duane’s successor— but the sentiment was expressed most colorfully by Quinn. “There are enormously huge pumps left for [Hoylman] to fill by Tom Duane. They are very high and expensive stilettos,” she deadpanned.
The joke underscored Duane’s significance as the first openly gay member of the New York State Senate. Hoylman will follow Duane’s footsteps in representing the LGBT community in Albany — which is important to Francine Haselkorn, a Hell’s Kitchen resident who attended the ceremony. She said seeing Hoylman, his partner and their daughter celebrating the election was a mark of progress.
“This wouldn’t have happened ten years ago,” Haselkorn said. “The comfort, the sophistication, the change in society — this is so New York.”
Hoylman’s sexual orientation played a big role in his past experience, including his work as president of the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats. He also served as a Democratic District Leader and as the chair of Manhattan Community Board 2. The latter office is one that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said showed him Hoylman had the mettle for higher office.
“When he became chair of Community Board 2, we were able to accomplish so much, navigate some really rocky waters,” Stringer recalled. “If you can survive two terms as chair of Community Board 2, you can take on anything. You can take on the Republicans in the senate, you can take on the governor. There’s nothing Brad Holyman won’t be able to do in Albany.”
Following his swearing-in, Hoylman made the rounds and mingled with dozens of supporters and fellow politicians. One of the many guests in Hoylman’s orbit was Steven Skyles-Mulligan, president of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club. Skyles-Mulligan chatted briefly with Hoylman during the reception and was proud of how the new senator received those waiting to congratulate him.
“He’s elated, and he’s doing a wonderful job of making everyone who came feel important,” Skyles-Mulligan said.
While his new senatorial duties will surely be an adjustment for Hoylman, he assured his supporters that he’s up to the task. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s never easy in Albany — so I hear. But I’m ready for the challenge,” he said. “This campaign, frankly, was easy compared to the challenge I and my colleagues will face in the legislature, and they will only be surmountable if we face them together.”