Tom Duane Has Unfinished Business Before He Leaves Albany This Year
CHELSEA — State Sen. Tom Duane might be retiring from office, but don't count him out of politics just yet.
The 14-year Albany veteran officially announced that he would not seek re-election in November, but said he would spend the next three weeks in the legislative session working to pass bills for the LGBT and HIV-positive communities.
"For the next seven months, that's how it's going to be," he said. "Three weeks is a lifetime in Albany."
Despite huge legislative victories throughout his 14 years in the position, Duane, New York's first openly gay state senator, hoped to have more a few more under his belt when he leaves his office at the end of the year.
One of his top priorities is a bill that would cap at 30 percent of income the rents of HIV/AIDS patients receiving housing assistance from the HIV/AIDS Services Administration. The bill had previously passed the Senate, but was vetoed by Governor David Patterson in 2010.
"This bill would fix a policy which is incredibly cruel, which impoverishes the sickest people living with AIDS," he said. "It is a cruel, ill-concieved state policy."
Duane also spoke of passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which would bring civil rights to the state's transgender population.
Duane announced that he would not run for an eighth term on Sunday, citing the desire to stop commuting between Albany and New York City and spend more time with his family. At Monday's press conference, he said he planned to take time to enjoy the city's theaters and museums in particular.
"New York City is my home and I want to come home," he said. "I want to start the next chapter of my life."
Duane also stopped short of naming and endorsing a success for his seat, which historically has gone Democratic, but did mention Community Board 2 Chair Brad Hoylman — who has already taken preliminary steps to run for City Council in 2013 — as a good choice.
"Brad Hoylman is one of my closest friends," he said.
"I love Brad, he's a great guy and he'd make a great state senator."
Duane could not immediately say what was next for his professional life, but did say he would continue to be an activist for his traditional base of tenants, the poor, and the LGBT community.
"It will be a little bit of saving the world," he said.