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LGBT trailblazers run for office in North Carolina

Matt Comer at QNotes has a great piece on openly gay candidates running for office in my state, as well as a look back at some of the trailblazers in the past. This year North Carolina has three out gay candidates who will be on the ballot — Mark Kleinschmidt, who's running to serve as the mayor of Chapel Hill, Lee Sartain is making a bid for a seat on the Raleigh City Council, and Owen Sutkowski has his eye on the Charlotte City Council. Taking a look back at the timeline of progress of openly gay North Carolinians running for office is interesting:

Bob Hoy and Lightning Brown: In 1981, Hoy lost his bid for a seat on the Raleigh City Council, while Lightning Brown narrowly lost in a race for Chapel Hill Town Council.

Joseph Herzenberg: Way back in 1987, North Carolina elected its  state’s first openly gay elected official — Joe Herzenberg. He won his race for Chapel Hill Town Council.  Lightning Brown's partner, Joe was a co-founder of Equality Carolina Political Action Committee.

Robert Sheets: Ran and lost his bids for a seat on the Charlotte City Council in 1987 and 1989; in his first bid played coy in the press about his orientation that reflected the times:

Q-Notes reported, “He said that asked whether he is gay, he will reply, ‘Would you ask such a damaging question of all candidates?’”

Mike Nelson: Elected to Carrboro Board of Alderman in 1993, then elected mayor of Carrboro in 1995 before running a successful campaign for Orange County Board of Commissioners.

Sen. Julia Boseman: NC's first out LGBT member of the NC General Assembly was elected to the Senate in 2004.

This session, Boseman has taken on the responsibility of being the leading proponent of the School Violence Prevention Act, opening her to personal criticism from radical, right-wing colleagues.

In a House committee hearing on the bill on June 16, Republican Minority Leader Skip Stam of Wake County said same-sex parents were “more dangerous that second-hand smoke.” He said protecting gay students would lead to the protection of pedophilia and gay marriage. All this in front of Boseman and her six-year-old son, who were both attending the committee hearing.

Elic Senter:  Won his bid to become mayor of Franklinton in 2007; this is the first elective office ever held by Senter.

Additional notables cited in Matt's piece:

Other current openly gay or lesbian elected officials include:
• Ernest Fleming: Warren County Board of Commissioners, first elected 2006.
• Janet Pepin, Boone City Council
• Lydia Lavelle, Carrboro Board of Aldermen
• Jennifer Knox, Wake County District Court
• Nancy Caviness, Duck, N.C., Town Council

Other historic candidacies include:
• Lesbian Sue Henry’s 1995 independent, write-in campaign for Charlotte mayor.
• Openly gay Jim Neal’s 2008 bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. He was defeated by then-N.C. Sen. Kay Hagan who went on to defeat then-incumbent Elizabeth Dole.
• Wade Boyles’ 2008 Democratic challenge to incumbent N.C. Rep. Dale Folwell in western Forsyth County. Folwell, a Republican, carried 60 percent of the vote.
• Libertarian Chris Cole’s several unsuccessful runs for the Charlotte City Council, N.C. Senate and House and U.S. Senate.

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