Today is the first anniversary of, well you all know what tragically happened on this day.
But last night’s elections were part of a Democratic tsunami that saw them regain control of the Washington state Senate, come close to taking back the House of Delegate in Virginia, sweep the executive offices in VA, keep the New York City mayor’s chair, and flip the governor’s mansion in New Jersey back to the Democrats.
That 2017 Democratic political tsunami also helped several trans candidates rack up historic wins.
Andrea Jenkins became the first trans person of any ethnic background to win a city council seat in a major city when she won her War 8 set with a whopping 73% of the vote..
As impressive as Jenkins win was, she could soon be joined on the Minneapolis City Council by Phillipe Cunningham who is also poised to make history.
Cunningham took on a 20 year incumbent who is also the current council president in Barb Johnson. After the first round of voting in Minneapolis’ ranked choice system was only trailing her in this race by a mere 120 votes. The winner of the Ward 4 council seat will be determined either today or in the next few days.
Should Cunningham win, it would not only be a political earthquake level win in Minneapolis, he would become the first Black trans man in the US to be elected to public office and, like Jenkins, the first of any ethnic background to be elected to the city council of a major city.
And as many of you are already aware of, Danica Roem slayed her legislative dragon in Bigot Bob Marshall, and it wasn’t close. She beat him by ten percentage points 55%-45% to win her landmark VA 13 House of Delegates race.
There were some other trans folks who rn for office in 2017 who didn’t capture the headlines, but were ultimately successful in their runs for public office
Tyler Titus ran for and won one of the four open seats on the Erie, PA school board last night, becoming the first out trans person to win elective office in the state of Pennsylvania.
In a concrete example of every vote counts, Stephe Koontz won her race for the Doraville, GA City Council Position 3 seat by a mere six votes.
If seven of her voters had stayed home, we wouldn’t be calling her Councilmember-elect Koontz today
Out west in California, there was another historic election happening with a trans candidate at the center of it.
Lisa Middleton became the first out trans candidate to run for and win a non judicial race ( Judge Vicky Kolakowski made that history in Alameda County back in 2012) when she won a seat on the Palm Springs, CA City Council. One of the people who endorsed Councilmember-elect Middleton was former US Senator Barbara Boxer.
It was also a big night for Trans United Fund, who backed Roem, Jenkins, Cunningham and Browde, and had two huge breakthrough political wins with a possible third one being determined as you read this. .
TUF was on the ground in Virginia, Minnesota and New York for over a year. The largest independent It was critical in Phillipe’s Ward 4 race and may be the decisive factor should he win this race against 20 year incumbent and Council President Barb Johnson.
The phone banking, fundraising, mailing, the canvassing all powered by a trans led political organization and its coalition partners with the goal of building and growing sustained trans political power.
It wasn’t all wonderful news on this November 7 night for trans political candidates. Chrissie Browde narrowly lost her race in New Castle, NY by a mere 264 votes. Hope she tries again in another election cycle.
Thanks to all of the people who stepped up in this cycle to run for office in their various locales and all the folks who helped them get across the finish line. Whether you were successful or not as a tran candidate in 2017, the message that you undeniably sent was that we are part of our various communities, and we aren’t going away.
Another message you sent to our right-wing opposition was that pushing anti-trans hate for electoral advantage may not be a wise political strategy. A growing list of Republican ex-politicians including Pat McCrory (NC), Debbie Riddle and Gilbert Pena (TX), Lee Bright (SC) and now Bob Marshall are real time examples of transphobia costing you your political career.
You also sent a positive message to our trans kids that helps expands their horizons concerning what is possible for a trans person born in the US.
You 2017 trans candidates whether you spectacularly won or narrowly lost, sent the message to our trans kids that one day, should you decide you wish to go into politics, you too can run and win public office.
And that’s what makes this an important and historic election night for trans kind.