Providence, R.I., elects gay mayor

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 07 2002 1:00 AM ET

Democrat David Cicilline was elected mayor of Rhode Island's capital city in a landslide Tuesday, making Providence the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor. With nearly all precincts reporting, Cicilline commanded 84% of the vote, while his nearest competitor, Republican David Talan, had 10%. "I'm humbled by the confidence the city has placed in me," said Cicilline, who was heavily favored in polls throughout the campaign. "This comes from a desire for change to ensure an accountable city government that operates honestly."

The Democrat from the city's east side didn't leave anything to chance on Election Day, campaigning throughout the day at polling places around the city even though polls showed him with a commanding lead over his three lesser-known opponents. "You can't take anything for granted," Cicilline said.

Cicilline, 41, is a defense attorney and state representative whose father is one of Rhode Island's best-known organized-crime lawyers. Providence (pop.: 174,000) now surpasses Tempe, Ariz. (pop.: 158,000) as the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor. Cicilline's sexual orientation was hardly an issue during the campaign, a tactic that sparked criticism from some gay people who felt he was downplaying his sexual orientation to woo a broader spectrum of voters.

"It's very exciting for me and for the city to achieve this milestone," Cicilline said. "Obviously there will be some interest nationally because I'm gay, but I'll continue to talk about the things that will make Providence a better place to live for all kinds of people."