Metro Weekly

Number of lesbian mayors across America could triple by June

Victories by four lesbians could bring number of out LGBTQ mayors of a major metropolitan city to 10

Clockwise from top left: Lori Lightfoot, Satya Rhodes-Conway, Jane Castor, Jolie Justus -Photos: Facebook.

Four lesbian mayoral candidates are poised to make history this year, potentially tripling the number of out lesbians ever elected to lead a top 100 city, and bringing the total number of out LGBTQ mayors to 42.

On April 2, Lori Lightfoot will be in a runoff election to become the next mayor of Chicago. Satya Rhodes-Conway will be in a runoff election for the mayoralty of Madison, Wis. And Jolie Justus, currently the frontrunner in the race for Kansas City mayor, will compete in a primary to determine candidates for the general election. Later this month, Jane Castor will compete in a runoff to determine the next mayor of Tampa, Fla. 

Victories by all four women would bring the number of out lesbians ever elected to lead a top 100 city from two — currently-serving Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Annise Parker, the CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and the former three-term mayor of Houston — to six. It would also nearly double the number of out LGBTQ people to have ever been elected mayor of a top 100 city, from six to 10.

All four candidates would mark other historical “firsts,” with Lightfoot serving as Chicago’s first female African-American mayor, and the only black lesbian mayor serving anywhere in the country. Rhodes-Conway would become Madison’s first openly LGBTQ person elected mayor, Justus would become the first openly LGBTQ big city mayor in the Heartland, and Castor the first openly LGBTQ big city mayor in the Southeast.

In total, there are 38 openly LGBTQ serving as mayors of cities of any size, including nine lesbians (including one who is intersex) and one queer woman, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which seeks to get openly LGBTQ elected to office.

“We are well-positioned to make 2019 the year of the lesbian mayor — potentially tripling the number of lesbians elected major city mayors in just one cycle,” Parker said in a statement ahead of the April elections. “All four women are on a clear path to victory and together would control city budgets of nearly $10 billion — that’s real responsibility and real power. Mayors have a profound influence on the daily lives of their constituents, so it is vital that diverse leaders with unique perspectives and solutions are elected to these positions.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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