Tallying up the votes: how LGBTQ candidates did in the spring election

by | May 1, 2024 | 0 comments

  • Stevens
  • Gorman
  • Duggan
  • Kilmer
  • Larson
  • Prestley
  • Nichols
  • Burgelis
  • Meltzer

Tallying up the votes: how LGBTQ candidates did in the spring election 

With everyone’s attention focused on the immense fight coming in November, the spring primary that took place in April has flown a bit under the radar for most people. Even so, we should always remember that small elections matter. Sometimes they matter more, because they are where county supervisors, school board members, etc. are elected, and these people have real influence over the everyday lives of those who live in their districts. Those elections are also where every vote carries a huge amount of weight, so even those who are disillusioned about voting in large elections can feel like they make a difference.

For proof of this, we need only look at the results of the Rock County Supervisor for District 13, which lies within Beloit city limits. Genia Stevens, an out lesbian woman of color, won by literally three votes. The final tally was 346 for Stevens, and 343 for her opponent, Tammy Green Gonfiantini. In another win for an LGBTQ Rock County Supervisor, Phillip Gorman won District 14, also in Beloit, by fewer than 80 votes.

Other members of the LGBTQ community who celebrated wins include Dianne Duggan, who easily won reelection for Mayor of Evansville; Richard Kilmer, who won re-election of rural Juneau County, District 5; and Todd Larson, who won Green County Supervisor District 25 by a landslide in 2022, and continued that trend with a win almost as large this April. Joey Prestley, who ran for and won Green Bay City Council District 6, only won by 15 votes. DJ Nichols, who ran for and won Oshkosh City Council At-Large, and Peter Burgelis, who ran for and won reelection to Milwaukee Common Council District 11, both won their contested elections. Peter Burgelis was attacked last year at a local mall and was called a homophobic slur during what appeared to be a road rage incident.

Several other LGBTQ candidates who ran for Dane County Supervisors in various districts were unopposed and won easily, as did Vered Meltzer and Nate Wolff, who were both elected to Appleton’s Common Council, Districts 2 and 12 respectively. Only two LGBTQ candidates listed on Fair Wisconsin PAC’s endorsement list lost their elections: Gloria Eastment, who lost her campaign for Brown County Supervisor to District 5 to Dan Theno, 367 to 585, and Jesus M. Rivera, who lost a bid for Cambridge Area School Board At-Large by fewer than 100 votes.

So what does this mean? While LGBTQ candidates overall did well in the Spring Primary, some only won by small margins, signifying wins that were hard-fought and where every vote mattered. We want to keep queer people in office to continue advocating for the community in a state that was the first in the union to pass legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, but Wisconsin has seen overreaches by the far right at all levels. Attempts have been made to ban trans kids from school athletics and gender-affirming care on a statewide level, locally to force teachers to out kids to parents who might not be safe, along with efforts to ban books and even a Dolly Parton song. Teachers in some districts can’t signify their pronouns or have rainbow flags on their desks. Wisconsin has been a leader in the past, but is just as vulnerable as the rest of the country to a regressive backslide, and the above winners are the front line against that.

 

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