Niagara Falls has a reputation as being slow to change. That’s why a 23-year-old city resident is turning heads as the first openly gay political candidate in city history. “I’m not running on it, but I’m not running away from it,” Joe Swartz said of his sexual orientation. “It doesn’t really change who I am or what I believe in.” But Swartz, a candidate for City Council, said it does shape his view of the world and the way government should be run. It’s a view he thinks will resonate with voters – even in a place that has had its struggles with diversity. “Somebody asks me what I bring to the table, I know what it’s like to be shut down and ignored and told to get to the back of the line,” he said. “Too often in our city, residents are being told to just get to the back of the line, that their voice isn’t very important.” Swartz’s early campaign is drawing cheers from local gay rights groups, who say it’s the latest example of recent progress when it comes to equality in the political arena.
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