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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 6, 2005

Mary Jo Hudson wins primary race

Tristan Hand says Warren loss is his last run

Columbus--Councilmember Mary Jo Hudson easily advanced to the fall election in the May 3 primary.

She was one of two openly gay candidates on Ohio municipal ballots during the primary election. The other, Tristan Hand of Warren, did not win his race.

Both Hudson and Hand are Democrats with long r�sum�s of service and activism in their cities as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Hudson will advance to the November 8 general election where she is expected to successfully defend her seat on Columbus City Council.

Hudson, 42, was appointed to fill the seat of retiring council member Richard Sensenbrenner last 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. Eight candidates are running to fill three seats. The top six in the May election will run in November for the three seats.

Hudson and the other two incumbent Democrats beat the five Republican candidates by significant margins, with Hudson running third overall.

Maryellen O�Shaugnessy led the way with 43,454 votes, followed by Kevin Boyce with 36,587 votes, and Hudson with 32,097 votes.

Republican Alicia Clark got 21,510 votes, followed by Phil Harmon with 20,767 votes and Eddie Pauline with 17,017 votes. They will face the three incumbents in November. Clark and Pauline are endorsed by the GOP.

Lorena Lacey, with 8,771 votes, and Wanda Corner, with 8,625 votes, are out of the race.

An attorney, Hudson chairs the city�s Jobs and Economic Development Committee. She raised nearly $98,000 to run, doubling that raised by Boyce, who was second.

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

�We finished just where we wanted to be in the primary,� said Hudson, �in third place with good distance between third and fourth.�

To keep the seat, Hudson said she will need to work hard between now and the general election in November to maintain that distance.

Hudson, whose support base is broad, said some newspapers still label her as a lesbian in every article.

�It hasn�t been detrimental, but I want to get to the point where no label is required,� said Hudson. �Once voters get to know me as a person, they find out I�m not different than people they know and members of their family. They learn that gay and lesbian people can care about the community as much as anyone else.�

Hudson said the Stonewall Democrats and many GLBT people she has known over the years have been strong campaign volunteers, going door-to-door and making phone calls and organizing.

�I couldn�t be there without the collective efforts of all those people,� said Hudson. �But my base of support is not limited to one group. If it were, I shouldn�t be here.�

In Warren, Hand finished sixth in a race for council at large where six candidates were vying for three slots on the November ballot.

Hand received 677 votes, or 8.74% of the total, behind opponents Gary Fonce with 1,624 votes, Helen Rucker with 1,455 votes, Bob Dean with 1,428 votes, Felipe Romain Jr. with 1,368 votes, and William Kruppa with 1,151 votes.

Hand previously ran 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 currently held by Dean.

Hand will continue to serve on two city commissions, Parks and Recreation, and Traffic, which he chairs.

�Politics isn�t my life,� said Hand. �Warren is my life.�

�There were people who showed they believe in us,� said Hand, �but I didn�t do as well as I thought I would.�

�This was my last run,� said Hand, 59. �I think I am going to spend more time with social activism and organizing the gay community.�

Hand, who was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Boston, also said he would use his time to help build the Ohio Democratic Party and to work on repealing the marriage ban amendment passed in the November election as Issue 1.

Hand said he was glad that his campaign was able to help generate grassroots support from, and visibility of, the LGBT community in the Mahoning Valley area.

As for giving the Mahoning Valley its first openly gay official, Hand said, �I�m not the person to do it, but I�m going to help find someone who can.�

Ohio presently has three other openly gay elected officials: Toledo council president Louis Escobar, Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows and Bloomdale council member Skeeter Hunt. None had primaries in May. Escobar will be on the ballot in September when Toledo holds its primary election.





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