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Three gay and lesbian Ohio candidates lose their races
All three of Ohio’s lesbian and gay candidates for municipal office lost their races on Election Day.
In Columbus, Republican city council candidate Bill Brownson finished seventh of eight in a race that seated the top four vote-getters. All four were incumbents, all Democrats.
Charleta Tavares led the field with 57,451 votes, followed by Michael Mentel with 53,413, Andrew Ginther with 49,646, and Hearcel Craig with 47,512.
Fifth, and not seated, was Jim O’Grady with 38,573, followed by Larry Thomas with 31,250. Brownson finished seventh with 28,310 votes followed by Paul Bingle with 20,533.
Brownson is a member of the Franklin County Republican executive committee and a member of the Circles Neighborhood Association. He also advises the Columbus Foundation and is the financial chair of King Avenue United Methodist Church.
The LGBT community knows Brownson as co-chair of the Legacy Fund, and as part of the group that founded Equality Ohio.
Brownson chaired the national Log Cabin Republicans from 2003-2005. Under his leadership, the group voted to deny George W. Bush an endorsement, and to file suit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over “don’t ask don’t tell.” It was these two actions that caused the local Republican Party to question his loyalty.
Brownson’s candidacy stirred the Franklin County Republican Party, which had concerns that one of its most visible candidates is gay, although county party chair Doug Preisse is also openly gay.
Some Democrats backed Brownson
Brownson had considerable support within the Columbus LGBT community, which has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold.
This is largely because the Democrats on council passed over a qualified, well-funded gay candidate when they appointed Craig to fill a vacancy in April, angering the LGBT community.
Since Mary Jo Hudson was appointed Ohio Director of Insurance by Gov. Ted Strickland in January, the Columbus city council has lacked LGBT representation.
LGBT support of Brownson angered Democratic activists, who complained when Lynn Greer recorded an automated phone call asking voters to support Brownson.
“You have four votes for city council,” says Greer’s 34-second message, “Please cast one of them for Bill Brownson.”
Greer, a prominent Democratic Party activist who once sought a seat on city council herself, was one of the early organizers of the Lesbian and Gay Victory Fund. She was also one of the first openly lesbian delegates to a Democratic National Convention.
Now Greer is being accused of misleading voters that Brownson is a Democrat.
Columbus city council races are non-partisan, though the party affiliation of the candidates is well known.
Minckler is seventh for Bexley mayor
Brownson was the only Ohio candidate endorsed by the Victory Fund. He was also supported by the Equality Ohio Campaign Fund, as was Bexley mayoral candidate Bill Minckler, who finished seventh of eight candidates.
Minckler declined interviews with the Gay People’s Chronicle.
John Brennan won the mayoral race with 1,054 votes, followed by Matt Lampke with 999, Gene Weiss with 947, William Harvey with 424, Robyn Jones with 393, Thomas Irvine with 196, Minckler with 180, and Scott Weinblatt with 46.
Weizer is voted out of council
In University Heights, Win Weizer was voted out of city council. Weizer became the Cleveland suburb’s first lesbian official in February when she was appointed to fill a vacancy.
Weizer, a Democrat, chose to run for a four year at-large seat instead of finishing the rest of the two-year unexpired term she was appointed to.
She is a founding member of the University Heights Citizen Committee for Cedar-Taylor Redevelopment in the neighborhood where she and her partner Pat Baskin live, and worked on the campaign to raise the city’s income tax prior to her appointment.
Weizer was part of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club, a forerunner to the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats. She was also involved with Dignity, the LGBT Catholic group, and appeared on local TV news in the 1980s, talking about gay and lesbian issues.
Finishing fifth, Weizer was the only member of her four-person slate not to make it.
Kevin Patrick Murphy led the ticket with 1,385 votes. Next was Steve Bullock with 1,386, then Frank Consolo with 1,206 and Steve Sims with 1,143.
Weizer received 983 votes, followed by Patrick Rhoa with 639.
Ohio has eight other openly gay and lesbian officials who were not up for election this week. They are Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows, Dayton school board member Joe Lacey, Montgomery County common pleas judge Mary Wiseman and city councilors Mark Tumeo in Cleveland Heights, Nickie Antonio in Lakewood, Eve Sandberg in Oberlin and Joe Santiago in Cleveland, along with Wood County commissioner Tim Brown, who came out after being outed on a blog in September.
Sandberg did not seek re-election this year and will leave office in January. Santiago faces a recall election in December (see story here).