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A gay candidate has been unveiled as the Conservative Party’s representative for the Hackney mayoral elections in May.

Andrew Boff, a runner up in the 2002 local election, will campaign for a council closer to the people and better services.

Mr Boff, who had one of the first Civil Partnership ceremonies last December, told PinkNews.co.uk, “I want to re-engage with the people of Hackney who find themselves with a Labour administration which is indifferent to what is being said in the many areas of this borough.”

He is promising voters’ initiatives which would see important issues put to a ballot of Hackney residents and vowed to abolish a £70 million town hall office project which is “sapping the resources from services to the most impoverished borough of Hackney.”

The candidate made it to the final round of the Tory London mayoral race in 1999 only to be beaten by Stephen Norris. He praised the diverse nature of Hackney, “It’s not the kind of borough that has gay issues, people accept diversity.

“The fact that it’s not special to have a gay candidate for mayor in Hackney shows how far it has come compared to other local authorities.”

“It will be an interesting campaign, the fact that its not special to have a gay candidate for mayor in Hackney shows how far it has come compared to other local authorities,” he added.

The Queensbridge Ward Conservative councillor is standing against current mayor and Labour candidate, Jules Pipe, Liberal Democrat Matthew Penhaligon, the Green Party’s Mima Bone, Monty Goldman of the Communist Party of Britain, Independent Hettie Peters and Dean Ryan of Respect.

Assuming support for Labour drops in Hackney, as is expected nationally, political analysts believe if second preference Liberal Democrat votes transfer to the Conservatives, Mr Boff will have a realistic chance.

The winner of the mayoral race will have an important role to play as Hackney is the host borough for the 2012 Olympics.

Meanwhile Tony Blair and Gordon Brown today launched Labour’s local election campaign.

Elections for some local councils will be held on May 4th 2006.