Columbus--The city�s police and firefighters� unions have thrown their support behind the city�s first lesbian member of council.
In her bid to keep the council seat she was appointed to last year, Mary Jo Hudson picked up the endorsements of the International Association of Firefighters Local 67 and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9.
They have joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Franklin County Democratic Party, the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
Hudson said she has been interviewed, and expects to hear about more endorsements after the Labor Day holiday.
�I�m not a long-term incumbent,� said Hudson, acknowledging that this is the election where she will be the most vulnerable.
�I can�t be complacent,� she added. �People saw my appointment as significant, but it is only significant if I get elected for the next four years.�
Hudson was appointed to city council in September 2004 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Richard Sensenbrenner. She became the first openly gay official in Columbus and the sixth in all of Ohio.
Hudson finished third in the May Democratic primary behind longtime incumbents Maryellen O�Shaugnessy and Kevin Boyce. On the Republican side, Alicia Clark, Phil Harmon, and Eddie Pauline advanced. The three top vote-getters in November will take the available seats, all at-large positions.
Hudson said she doesn�t expect to get more votes than O�Shaugnessy or Boyce, who are both very popular. �For me, third place is first place.�
Hudson, an attorney, chairs the council�s Jobs and Economic Development Committee and has made economic development and job creation the central issues of her campaign.
�Folks are engaging with me to make sure I understand their concerns,� said Hudson, pointing out that after the initial big news and local headlines, her sexual orientation is now a �non-issue� in the campaign.
�It just doesn�t come up when you are talking about developing a neighborhood business district,� said Hudson.
Part of that, according to Hudson, also comes from getting to know people and getting her message out, both of which require money and campaign volunteers.
Hudson said she is going to concentrate on raising enough money to do direct mail to voters and get on television, as well as resume walking the city with volunteers.
�My calendar is full,� said Hudson.
�People stop me and thank me all the time, and it is touching and humbling,� said Hudson of the city�s GLBT community. �My being on council means a lot to folks. They�re pleased and proud about my being accepted overall.�
Hudson said one of her challenges is to reach the part of the GLBT community that may not be voting.
�Our community is used to being defensive,� said Hudson, �and I have some concern that my acceptance could lead to complacency, when in fact, every time there�s someone else on the ballot, it�s a defensive situation.�
Hudson is joined by five other GLBT candidates for city councils around Ohio.
Nickie Antonio is running in Lakewood, Joe Santiago in Cleveland, Mark Tumeo in Cleveland Heights, and Tom Meinecke and David Schulz in Toledo.
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