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Lesbian Mayor Runs for State Senate

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The former mayor of Cambridge, Mass., has declared her candidacy in a tight state senate race.

E. Denise Simmons, the first openly lesbian African-American mayor in the country, said she was not planning to run for the state senate but felt encouraged by friends and family to seize the opportunity.

The seat became vacant after Sen. Anthony D. Galluccio resigned from his position. He had violated his probation after pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was sentenced to a year in jail last month, according to the Harvard Crimson.

Simmons will be the 10th person to throw her hat into the ring. Though the field of competitors -- which includes fellow council member Marjorie Decker -- is crowded, she said she is confident she can win.

"The difficult job market, the affordable housing crunch, and the strain upon our social services providers have taken a toll on us all," she said in a statement announcing her campaign. "[W]e need strong leaders in the legislature who are prepared to roll up their sleeves, respond to their districts' needs, and get Massachusetts back on track."

Simmons was appointed by her colleagues on the Cambridge city council to serve as mayor for the 2008-2009 term. She is currently serving her fifth term on the council.

Upon being sworn in as mayor in 2008, Simmons told The Advocate that being outed early in her career by a local newspaper actually made things easier for her.

"It wasn't that I hid," she said. "I just didn't bring it up. Afterward, I didn't have to think anymore about which pronouns I used when I talked about my partner."

The Democratic primary will be held April 13, with the general election scheduled for May 11.

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