LGBTQ+ Election Night Stories to Watch

Tuesday November 2, 2021
Originally published on October 30, 2021

India Walton, Democratic nominee in the mayoral race for Buffalo, New York.
India Walton, Democratic nominee in the mayoral race for Buffalo, New York.   (Source:Victory Fund)

LGBTQ Victory Fund shared eight LGBTQ+ Election Night stories to watch and announced it will live track results for its 131 LGBTQ+ endorsed candidates on the ballot on Election Night.

In 2021, at least 410 out LGBTQ+ candidates ran for office — more than in any other odd-numbered election year in history — and at least 242 will appear on the ballot in November.

Below are eight LGBTQ+ storylines to watch on Election Night:

1. Will America elect more LGBTQ+ candidates than in any other odd-numbered election year?

With at least 242 out LGBTQ+ candidates on the ballot next Tuesday, American voters can elect more LGBTQ+ candidates in 2021 than in any other odd-numbered election year in U.S. history. The previous record, set during the 2019 election cycle, saw 169 LGBTQ+ candidates elected throughout the year. Forty-two LGBTQ+ candidates have already won in 2021 — requiring 128 more to win on Election Night to surpass the 2019 odd-number election year record.

Tyler Titus
Tyler Titus  (Source: Victory Fund)

2. Will Tyler Titus become the first trans county executive in U.S. history?

Erie School Board President Tyler Titus (they/them) is running for county executive in Erie County, Pennsylvania and would become the first out trans person in the U.S. to be elected a county executive. Titus would also represent more constituents than any other out trans elected official in history. Titus previously made history when they were elected to the Erie School Board, becoming the first out trans person elected in Pennsylvania.

The victory would be significant, as Erie County is considered an election bellwether, not just for the state, but the entire nation. The Hill previously named it one of "10 counties that will decide the 2020 election" — it narrowly voted for Trump in 2016 and for Biden in 2020 — making Titus' general election an "important test" for trans candidates running in swing districts.

Titus identifies as trans and non-binary. Currently, there are just 43 out trans people and only 11 out non-binary or genderqueer people elected in the entire U.S.

Sheila Nezhad
Sheila Nezhad  (Source: Victory Fund)

3. Will LGBTQ+ mayors of color be elected in Buffalo and Minneapolis?

India Walton won an upset Democratic primary victory against the incumbent mayor and is now the Democratic nominee in the mayoral race for Buffalo, New York. Walton would be the first out LGBTQ+ mayor of Buffalo if elected, and become one of just two Black out LGBTQ+ women mayors in the entire nation (the other being Lori Lightfoot of Chicago). Despite Democrats making up a majority of Buffalo voters, the incumbent mayor, who lost the primary, launched a write-in campaign for the general election, complicating the potential outcome.

In Minneapolis, Sheila Nezhad is running for mayor against the incumbent in a non-partisan ranked-choice election. Nezhad would be the first out LGBTQ+ mayor of a city in the entire state of Minneapolis, and one of just four LGBTQ+ people of color currently serving as mayor of a top 100 U.S. city (or one of five, if Walton wins in Buffalo).

4. Will LGBTQ+ school board candidates win as anti-LGBTQ+ activists and politicians protest inclusion of trans students in schools?

School boards across the nation have faced protests and riotous meetings from anti-LGBTQ+ activists who oppose trans inclusion in public schools, and politicians are increasingly using trans students as a political weapon. Dion Manley, running in Gahanna, Ohio, would become one of just six out trans men serving in any position in the entire U.S. Also running are Jae Moyer, who would be the first out non-binary person elected in Kansas if elected to the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees, and running for reelection to the South Orange/Maplewood Board of Education is Shannon Cuttle, who identifies as trans and non-binary.

5. Will Danica Roem and other Virginia House of Delegates candidates win election or reelection in this closely watched state?

Four of the five currently serving out LGBTQ+ members of the Virginia House of Delegates are running for reelection this year: Dawn Adams (District 68), Joshua Cole (District 28), Danica Roem (District 13), and Mark Sickles (District 43). Adams and Cole, in particular, have extremely close elections, with a tight gubernatorial race at the top of the ticket. Cole came out while in office earlier this year, making this the first time he would win as an out LGBTQ+ candidate. He faces an anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-BLM activist as an opponent.

Roem — who was the first out trans person to win and serve in a state legislature in the U.S. when she won in 2017 — is again running against an anti-LGBTQ+ opponent who does not support same-sex adoption or marriage equality. Additionally, non-incumbent Doug Ward (District 18) is running against an incumbent who has repeatedly voted against pro-equality legislation, including non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.

Vincent Solomeno
Vincent Solomeno  (Source: Victory Fund)

6. Will New Jersey elect its first out state senator and restore LGBTQ+ representation to the state legislature?

Army veteran Vincent Solomeno (District 13) is running against an anti-LGBTQ+ incumbent who voted against marriage equality and LGBTQ+-inclusive textbooks in schools. Solomeno will be the first out LGBTQ+ person ever elected to the New Jersey state Senate if he wins.

Currently, New Jersey is one of just six states to have zero LGBTQ+ members in either chamber of the state legislature — and the only blue state without LGBTQ+ members. Either Solomeno or Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Don Guardian (District 2), running for the state Assembly, would restore LGBTQ+ representation to the state legislature.

7. Will LGBTQ+ representation on the Atlanta City Council increase exponentially?

Only one out LGBTQ+ person — Councilmember Antonio Brown — currently serves on the Atlanta City Council, but he is running for mayor and is not seeking reelection. Yet, four Victory Fund-endorsed LGBTQ+ candidates are running for the council, including Liliana Bakhtiari (District 5), who would be the first out queer Muslim elected in Georgia history. Also on the ballot are Devin Barrington-Ward (District 9), Kelly-Jeanne Lee (District 1), and former Councilmember Alex Wan (District 6).

8. Will voters increase LGBTQ+ representation on the New York City Council by electing a historic group of LGBTQ+ candidates?

All four LGBTQ+ incumbent New York City Councilmembers are termed out, but six out LGBTQ+ candidates are on the ballot looking to replace them. Many will be historic firsts if they win.

Crystal Hudson (District 35) and Kristin Richardson Jordan (District 9) would be the first two Black out LGBTQ+ women elected to the council. Lynn Schulman (District 29) and Tiffany Cabán (District 22) would be the first out LGBTQ+ women elected to any public office from Queens. Chi Ossé (District 36) would be the youngest person ever elected to the council, and Erik Bottcher (District 3) would preserve LGBTQ+ representation in his district, an LGBTQ+ legacy seat that is home to the Stonewall Inn.

Victory Fund will provide live updates on the state of the races at as well as an overview of how LGBTQ+ candidates are faring nationwide.

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