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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
April 29, 2005

Lesbian and gay candidates run in Ohio primaries Tuesday

Warren--Two openly gay candidates will be on Ohio municipal ballots May 3.

Tristan Hand is again seeking a seat on Warren City Council, while Columbus council member Mary Jo Hudson is defending hers for the first time.

Both Democrats, Hand and Hudson attended the Democratic National Convention in Boston as delegates last year. Both have been civic leaders and activists in the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

Hand, 59, owns the Queen of Hearts gay bar in downtown Warren.

There are six in his race to be seated as an at-large member of council. The top three vote-getters will run for three seats in November against a lone Republican, Niki Frenchko.

Opposing Hand on Tuesday are incumbents Robert Dean, Gary Fonce and Felipe Romaine, and challengers Helen Rucker and Bill Kruppa.

Hand ran unsuccessfully for the city�s Ward 4 seat in 2001, and narrowly missed an appointment to fill a vacant at-large seat in 2003. That seat is now held by Dean.

Running as a progressive Democrat , Hand says, �Politics isn�t my life, Warren is my life.� He currently serves on two city commissions, Parks and Recreation and Traffic, which he chairs.

His campaign is running inexpensively and on shoe leather, meeting and greeting voters around the city. Three of the city�s seven wards are targeted by volunteers and 5,000 automated phone calls.

Hand said there are non-gay people associated with his campaign, too, but that the �hard core� six to eight volunteers are gay.

Hand�s platform includes a plan to shrink the size of council by three ward seats due to Warren�s population decline.

Hudson, 42, was appointed to fill the seat of the retiring Richard Sensenbrenner in September, becoming the first openly gay official in Ohio�s capital city, and the state�s sixth.

All seven Columbus council seats are at-large. Currently all are held by Democrats, though the races are non- partisan.

There are eight candidates running to fill three seats. Hudson is joined by fellow incumbents Kevin Boyce and Maryellen O�Shaugnessy. The three have five challengers: Alisia Clark, Wanda Corner, Phil Harmon, Lorena Lacey and Eddie Pauline, who are all Republicans.

An attorney, Hudson chairs the city�s Jobs and Economic Development Committee, which has given her significant media visibility since taking office.

Hudson has raised nearly $98,000 to run, more than any other candidate. The next in that line is Boyce at $46,000.

She is endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund of Washington, D.C., which solicits contributions for openly lesbian or gay candidates they consider to be viable.

Hudson�s civic involvement includes the United Way, the Columbus Civil Service Commission and the Women�s Fund of Central Ohio in addition to the Human Rights Campaign board.

Her campaign has ten gay people at its core, and dozens of volunteers who call themselves �Team MJ.�

Hudson�s platform includes emphasis on economic development, jobs and good city management.���������

Ohio presently has three other openly gay or lesbian elected officials: Toledo council president Louis Escobar, Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows and Bloomdale council member Skeeter Hunt. None have primaries in May, although Toledo has one in September.




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