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May 21, 2010

Antonio is a shoo-in as her only opponent drops out

Lakewood--With opposition out of the race, it is now nearly certain that Ohio will get an openly lesbian legislator.

Lakewood councilor Nickie Antonio won a tough Democratic primary race against her council colleague Tom Bullock on May 4.

Now her only remaining opponent, independent Jeremy Caldwell, has withdrawn from the race. No Republican filed to be on the ballot.

The Ohio City resident’s exit from the race was made official May 11 with a handwritten note to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. No reason for his exodus was stated.

“I have no opponent, but I will continue to campaign and meet people,” Antonio said, “so that I can better represent all of the people of the district.”

“For me, campaigning was never about an opponent. It has always been about service to the people of the district,” Antonio continued.

Barring any extraordinary circumstances, Antonio, 54, will be seated as Ohio’s first openly LGBT general assembly member in January 2011. She will represent the 13th District, which encompasses all of Lakewood and the part of Cleveland to its east, including the Edgewater and Detroit-Shoreway neighborhoods, and most of Ohio City. It is the seat currently held by LGBT ally Mike Skindell, who will most likely become a state senator.

It has taken Ohio longer than most states to get an openly LGBT lawmaker. There are currently 83 out legislators in 32 states, according to the Lesbian and Gay Victory Fund. Those states include Georgia, Utah, Wyoming, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma.

This is the second “first” for Antonio, who became Lakewood’s first openly gay official when she was elected to the at-large council seat in 2005.

Antonio holds a master of public administration degree from the Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and a bachelor of science degree in education from Cleveland State University. She has also been a special education teacher and college instructor and an aide to former Lakewood mayor Madeline Cain.

She has been active with the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats and Ohio’s Democratic Party.

Antonio and her partner Jean Kosmac have two daughters, Ariel and Stacey.

Also on the November ballot, in the Dayton area, will be Ohio’s first openly lesbian judge, Mary Wiseman, who is also unopposed. A former Dayton city commissioner, Wiseman was appointed to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court by Governor Ted Strickland in 2007.

Openly gay Franklin County Auditor candidate Terry Brown ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face Republican Clarence Mingo, the incumbent, and Libertarian Michael Blose in November.

A second openly gay Ohio House candidate, John Sowers of Columbus, was defeated by his primary opponent, longtime LGBT ally Mike Stinziano.

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