Election Day 2017 Wrap-Up: My Queer Perspective

There will be lots of these types of posts today across the blogosphere. You should read them because the outcomes from this particular election are both disappointing and hopefilled for those of us living our lives on the ground.

Check out what Alvin McEwan has to say about it at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters.

I’m going to share some outcomes and save my general analysis for the end of this post. If I missed anything significant, please message me or leave a comment. Of course I missed something!


Republican Sallie Mundy defeated Democrat Dwayne Woodruff for the vacancy in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Mundy is a strict constructionist which is never a good thing IMHO, but I have to admit she’s more qualified than Woodruff. Those nasty negative ads she ran were deplorable. This is a blow nonetheless. Democrats still retain the numerical advantage on the Court.

From the Post-Gazette:

Democrats took both open seats on Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, with David Spurgeon and Patrick Connelly the winners.

There was no sign of any Trumpian drain-the-swamp sentiment out there when it came to the judicial retention races. All the statewide judges up for retention were ratified by voters, as were all the Allegheny County Common Pleas judges running for retention.

One surprise swing to the left — even in a Democratic town — was the win of attorney Mik Pappas, running as an Independent for district judge, over Ron Costa Sr., a Morningside Democrat serving his fourth six-year term in Pittsburgh East End.

The tax ballot initiative passed which is terrible news. The city home rule charter amendment also passed which is not good in my opinion, but far from as terrible as the previous vote.

In the City of Butler, a devastating series of losses for Mayor and City Council. We may not have any forward momentum on local nondiscrimination ordinances for another few election cycles.

But there is some other big local news in Pennsylvania

From Northwest PA, Tyler Titus won his race for the Erie School Board becoming the first out trans person ever elected in the state of Pennsylvania.

In Pittsburgh suburb Bellevue, Emily Marburger was elected Mayor and Val Pennington, an African-American man, won a seat on Boro Council after a somewhat brutal election as described by his wife Dr. Molly Pennington on her blog.

Over in Northeastern PA, Sean Strub was successful in his election bid as Mayor of Milford. Strub, a longtime activist, is among a handful of openly out HIV-positive politicians in the U.S. (I’m not clear, yet, if he’s the only such politician in Pennsylvania or not, but I’ll be asking him!)


In Virginia, Danica Roem has become the first out trans person to be elected to a state legislature. She defeated 26 year veteran incumbent  ‘Bigot Bob’ Marshall who is one of the most vile foes to the LGBTQ community and author of a proposed state ‘bathroom bill.’ She raised more money, turned out more boots on the ground, and earned this important victory.

In Minneapolis, Andrea Jenkins became the first out Black trans person to win elective office in the nation in her victorious race for City Council. She captured 73% of the vote and it is clear the voters saw how eminently qualified this long-time City Council staffer was to step into this role.

In Charlotte, Democrat Vi Lyles became Charlotte’s first African-American female mayor winning her race 58-42%.

Palm Springs City Council Candidate Lisa Middleton will become the first out transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California with her commanding first place win in today’s election. Additionally, Palm Springs City Council Candidate Christy Holstege will become another LGBTQ voice on the Palm Springs City Council as the winner of the second open seat.

Jenny Durkan will become Seattle’s first lesbian mayor.

I did not expect – and truly relish – writing about four electoral victories for transgender candidates, especially one in Pennsylvania. Just savor that for a moment.  Maybe do a little dancing?

Overall, I think this bodes well for Democrats to mobilize locally and with the proper investment of resources. Actually, it bodes well for progressives and those who oppose tyranny in general. And this knot in my chest that’s been in place since last November has begun to ease up a bit.

There will lots of well-deserved kudos to all of the candidates who threw their hats into the ring, their volunteers and supporters and voters. This election was a referendum in many ways and we face a new challenge as we move forward.

Pennsylvania is not a red or blue state. We are an amalgam. I think the elections in Erie and Milford erode the misperception that all of rural Pennsylvania is red. I skew toward the belief that Southwestern Pennsylvania is the most conservative and anti-progressive region of the Commonwealth. Think about Pittsburgh City Council losing a woman councilor to a cis het white man while the suburbs elected women mayors in Wilkinsburg and Bellevue.

We have to continue encouraging candidates to run and supporting them, but we also have to remind white cis het men to take a step back to cultivate opportunities. The dawn of a new era means the architects of the old era (that gave us Trump) have to acknowledge their complicity and how their individual choices reinforce the patriarchal oppression devastating our society.

So tell me some other good news from your neck of the woods …

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