RITCHIE JOHN TORRES is an American politician from New York born on this date. A member of the Democratic Party, Torres is the U.S. Representative for New York’s 15th congressional district. Previously, Torres served as the New York City Councilmember for the 15th district elected in 2013. Torres was the first openly gay candidate to be elected to legislative office in the Bronx, and the youngest member of the city council. He served as the chair of the Committee on Public Housing, and is a deputy majority leader. As chair of the Oversight and Investigations Committee he focused on taxi medallion predatory loans, and the city’s Third Party Transfer Program. In 2016, Torres was a delegate for the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Torres is Afro-Latino; his father is from Puerto Rico and his mother is African-American. He was raised by his mother in Throggs Neck Houses, a public housing project in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx, where he was frequently hospitalized for asthma as a result of the mold growing in their apartment. He said, of growing up economically disadvantaged in “slum conditions”, “I was raised by a single mother who had to raise three children on minimum wage and I lived in conditions of mold and vermin, lead and leaks.” His mother raised him, his twin brother, and their sister. He was upset by the $269 million city-subsidized Trump Golf Links built “across the street” in Ferry Point Park, rather than housing for struggling New Yorkers; the course was built on a landfill, took fourteen years to be developed, and opened in 2015. He vowed then to fight for their well-being. In junior high he realized he was gay but did not come out fearing homophobic violence.
He attended Herbert H. Lehman High School, served in the inaugural class of the Coro New York Exploring Leadership Program, and later worked as an intern in the offices of the Mayor and Attorney General. He came out as gay while a sophomore “during a schoolwide forum on marriage equality.
In July 2019, Torres announced his bid for New York’s 1th congressional district, to succeed Representative Jose E. Serrano. The 15th district is one of the most Democratic leaning congressional districts in the country. Torres won the November 2020 general election, and assumed office on January 3, 2021. This makes him and Mondaire Jones the first openly gay Black men elected to Congress. This also made Torres the first openly gay Afro Latino elected to Congress.