Tuesday’s elections proved successful for LGBTQ candidates. Of the 200 known LGBTQ candidates running in elections, 99 were declared winners by Wednesday evening. Those endorsed by the Victory Fund included four mayors, five state legislators, one judge — Philadelphia’s own Tiffany Palmer — and 73 local candidates, seven of which hail from Pennsylvania.
“We are building a pipeline of out LGBTQ leaders at every level of government so we can advance equality today, and so we are positioned to run for higher-level offices in greater numbers tomorrow,” said Mayor Annise Parker, President and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund.
Locally, out judicial candidate Palmer secured 205,607 votes — more than the other six candidates on the ballot. The outpour of support weighed in at 15.01 percent of the vote. Sitting gay judge Dan Anders also won retention.
The most surprising victory of the night was that of Kendra Brooks, the Independent Working Families Party. Earning one of the two at-large seats reserved for members of a minority party and typically held by Republicans, Brooks secured 55,599 votes — more than any other at-large candidate. Brooks told PGN in October that her 20-year-old, gender-nonconforming child who came out as a young teen inspires her to champion LGBTQ rights.
“Everyone deserves equality, equal rights and to love who you love and be who you are,” Brooks said at the time.
Incumbent David Oh won the other at-large seat. In October, the Republican shared a link to a religious news outlet’s article about Elizabeth Warren’s support of health care coverage for gender-affirming surgeries and asked his Facebook followers whether they were aware that the City of Philadelphia provides its employees with insurance that covers the procedures. Oh’s post referenced how he opposed the law that guaranteed this coverage to trans individuals, which City Council passed in 2013 after it was introduced by Mayor Jim Kenney, who was a councilmember at the time.
Councilmember At-Large Helen Gym, who introduced the three bills giving protections to trans and nonbinary folks that Major Kenney signed into law last week, won reelection along with Derek Green and Allan Domb. Notably, Domb released a 31-page vision of the future for Philadelphia and never mentioned the LGBTQ community. Democratic newcomers Isaiah Thomas and Katherine Gilmore Richardson also prevailed in the at-large race.
The only out candidate in the City Council at-large race, Independent Sherrie Cohen, was defeated. Cohen ran a grassroots campaign and received 8,354 votes.
Overall, last night was a victory for LGBTQ folks across the nation and locally, but Philadelphia has yet to have an out LGBTQ City Councilmember. Let’s celebrate — but also remember we have work to do.