Running for: Indianapolis City-County Council
Zach Adamson is a small businessman and community activist running for reelection. Zach has been working in district on community development for 12 years and has been a small business owner for 18.
In 2011, Zach made Indiana history as the first openly LGBTQ person to win election to a county wide office when he won the city-county council at-large race. He remains the only LGBTQ voice on in Indianapolis government, and one of only five openly LGBTQ elected officials in Indiana.
Why we’re watching: Indiana is a diverse city that needs to keep and expand its LGBTQ representation, especially following the passage of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Running for: Salt Lake City Mayor
Jackie Biskupski was the first openly gay person ever elected to public office in the history of Utah. In 1998, she elected to the state legislature where she represented Salt Lake City’s 30th District for more than a decade. If elected, she will become the first openly LGBTQ mayor of Salt Lake City.
Utah has no LGBTQ-specific hate crime laws, public accommodations protections or statewide anti-bullying policy. Jackie is dedicated to protecting LGBTQ people in Salt Lake City.
Why we’re watching: Jackie is running against a two-term incumbent, and she placed first in the primary. Recent polling puts her neck-and-neck with her opponent, leading likely voters by just two percent.
Running for: Mayor of Charleston
Ginny Deerin is running a historic race. Running to succeed the most long-term mayor in Charleston’s history is a feat. Running as Charleston’s first woman mayor and first LGBTQ mayor is an even bigger one.
Her race has been competitive, but Ginny has come out on top in terms of donations to her campaign. She’s been supported by Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who’s been rated one of the best mayors in the world.
Ginny knows that Charleston’s LGBTQ community needs her. South Carolina has no state protections for LGBTQ people, and Charleston only has a lowly 60/100 rating on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index.
Why we’re watching: This is a six-way race, and Ginny was the lead fundraiser in the third quarter. However, because she’s running against career politicians who had more name recognition, she had to spend her money early, leaving her with less cash on hand than her nearest opponent. With the retirement of Mayor Joe Riley – who is universally admired inside and outside Charleston – this is a race to fill big shoes. We believe Ginny – who put out policy proposals weeks before any of her opponents – is the woman for the job.
Running for: Mayor of Palm Springs
Ginny is a veteran to the progressive movement. She organized a bus ride for Martin Luther King’s March on Washington and served as president of California NOW.
Ginny Foat knows Palm Springs. Since being elected to the Palm Springs City Council in 2003, she’s dedicated her life to the city, and specifically to its LGBTQ community.
Palm Springs is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country, and that is due in large part to Ginny. She is a former co-chair of the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV/AIDS services and a former executive director of Caring for Children and Families with AIDS. She’s a founding co-chair of the Palm Springs Gay & Lesbian Center.
Why we’re watching: Ginny could become Palm Springs’ first woman and first lesbian mayor. She has the support of the Desert Stonewall Democrats and two of the city’s biggest donors. This election is following the current mayor’s public corruption investigation by the FBI.
Running for: Columbus City Council, At-Large
Councilmember Hardin served as the mayor’s LGBTQ liaison, providing a strong voice for the community in city government and working with Columbus City Council to ensure that the city earned a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. This is a historic feat in a state that has no LGBTQ protections.
Shannon’s work has changed lives in Columbus. The programs he has implemented in Columbus have empowered the citizens that need it most. His work on the Restoration Academy and Columbus Urban League on the African American Male Initiative has provided mentorship, job training and leaderships skills to countless people.
Shannon will continue to make a difference for the city of Columbus, and that’s why he’s running to stay on the council he was appointed to.
Why we’re watching: Shannon is the first openly LGBTQ African American to hold office in Columbus, and is only one of nine LGBTQ voices serving in Ohioan government at any level.
Running for: City Council, District 2 in Midvale, Utah
Sophia is a software engineer, US Navy veteran, and community council member running to unseat a longtime incumbent on the Midvale City Council. Her hope is to make Midvale a place more welcoming and celebratory toward diversity.
If elected, Sophia would be the first transgender elected official in the state of Utah and the only woman serving on the council.
Why we’re watching: The difference between Sophia becoming the first transgender elected official in Utah and her losing could be just a few votes in a small district like this. Her win will be historic, and will prove the strength of the LGBTQ community even in small suburbs like Midvale.
Running for: Salt Lake City Council, District 4
Derek and his partner are responsible for Utah striking its ban on same-sex marriage and today they run a local business selling packaged Middle Eastern food. If Derek wins his election, he’ll provide a strong voice for the LGBTQ people of Salt Lake City.
Why we’re watching: Derek’s story is a familiar one to those in LGBTQ politics. After leading a normal life, Derek was thrust into the spotlight after realizing the need to fight for what the LGBTQ community deserves. Now, he’s ready to continue this work on the City Council.
Running for: Houston City Council, At-Large
Lane is the Chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party and chief compliance officer at a charter school. He has spent most of his career of service aiding LGBTQ youth, and played a role in Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court case that changed the country’s sodomy laws.
Why we’re watching: Lane has been an outspoken advocate for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which is on the same ballot as his race. Opponents of HERO have put out nasty ads implying that transgender people are pedophiles.
Running for: Mississippi State Auditor
Joce owns her own engineering firm and has been the forefront of the battles against Mississippi’s same-sex marriage ban and RFRA law. Her advocacy inspired many locals that encouraged her to run for office. If elected, she will be the sole LGBTQ elected official in the state of Mississippi.
Why we’re watching: Not only will Joce be the only current LGBTQ elected official in Mississippi, she will be the first person to win after running as an openly LGBTQ candidate.
Running for: Mayor of Southfield, Michigan
Ken, an LGBTQ advocate and former teacher, served the Southfield City Council for 14 years before running for mayor. As a council member, he helped pass the Southfield Human Rights Ordinance.
His opponent is the council president, who has been staunchly opposed to marriage equality. That difference creates a high-stakes election for the LGBTQ people of Southfield.
Why we’re watching: The days of homophobic attacks are alive and well in this race. He’s had several of his campaign signs destroyed or vandalized with anti-gay slurs. His opponent, Sylvia Jordan, has said “I don’t think I knew a gay person until late, late in life. Now it’s being slapped in your face every day.”