Metro Weekly

West Virginia voters elect first out transgender official to Wheeling City Council

Mental health professional ran on local issues like improving infrastructure and addressing scourges of poverty and drug addiction

west virginia, trans, transgender, council, rosemary ketchum

Wheeling Councilwoman-elect Rosemary Ketchum – Photo: Facebook

On Tuesday, voters in Wheeling, W.V., elected Rosemary Ketchum to the Third Ward seat on the Wheeling City Council, making her the first openly transgender officeholder in the state.

According to unofficial totals, Ketchum received 287 votes, or 39% of all votes cast, in a four-way race, reports The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register.

She will fill the seat currently occupied by Councilwoman Melinda Koslik, who did not run for re-election, and will represent the neighborhoods of Mozart, South Wheeling, Center Wheeling, and East Wheeling.

Ketchum, an East Wheeling resident and community organizer who works as a mental health professional at NAMI Greater Wheeling, focused her campaign on addressing the issues of poverty, addiction, vacant properties, and projects to fix the city’s aging infrastructure and improve the conditions of local roads.

Currently, there are only 26 trans elected officials serving anywhere in the nation, and, next month, when Ketchum takes office, she will be only the fourth out LGBTQ official elected to any office in the state.

“Rosemary has shattered the lavender ceiling in West Virginia and will join the growing number of out trans elected officials serving nationwide,” Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Ketchum’s candidacy, said in a statement.

“Trans people are severely underrepresented in elected office, so Rosemary’s victory will resonate well beyond her state,” Parker added. “We know Rosemary’s race will inspire other trans people from conservative states to consider a run for office in their communities — and then those candidates will inspire others as well. That virtuous cycle is the key to building trans acceptance and political power long-term.”

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

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