Election Day 2021 was one for the Ohio history books, with twenty-three new and incumbent LGBTQ+ candidates winning their respective races across the state – from city council to school board to the judge’s bench.
While odd-year elections tend to receive less fanfare than their even-year counterparts, the results often have a more direct effect on the lives of individual voters, as it is primarily at the local level that policies related to education, infrastructure, law enforcement, and economic development are decided.
Hence the importance of having diverse perspectives at the table – to ensure the entire community is represented in the decision-making process.
After Tuesday’s elections, that diversity is poised to increase dramatically next year, when these twenty-three LGBTQ+ candidates are sworn in all across Ohio.
1. Dion Manley, Gahanna Jefferson School Board
Dion Manley won his race for Gahanna Jefferson School Board. According to the Victory Fund, he is the first out trans person ever elected in Ohio history, and just one of five out trans men to hold public office in the entire country.
2. Rebecca Maurer, Cleveland City Council, Ward 12
First-time candidate Rebecca Maurer defeated a 16-year incumbent to win a seat on Cleveland City Council, becoming the first out LGBTQ+ woman elected to the council in the city’s history. A lawyer and community advocate who’s been instrumental in citywide reforms related to lead paint and its harmful effects on childhood development, Maurer will join Kerry McCormack as one of two sitting city councilmembers in Cleveland who identify as LGBTQ+.
3. Kerry McCormack, Cleveland City Council, Ward 3
Kerry McCormack won a decisive victory against a challenger to retain his seat on Cleveland City Council. An out gay man who has championed a number of successful pro-LGBTQ+ policies in the city since taking office in 2016, McCormack says he will continue to focus on building a more vibrant Cleveland in his second term on city council.
4. Shannon Hardin, Columbus City Council President
Incumbent Shannon Hardin will continue in his role as Columbus City Council President – the first out gay man to hold that office. In addition to affordable housing, criminal justice reform, and expansion of the city’s mass transit system, Hardin says he will continue to work to use his platform to inspire the next generation of LGBTQ+ and especially Black queer youth that they can become leaders in their community, too.
5. Nick Komives, Toledo City Council At-Large
Nick Komives won his reelection bid for Toledo City Council At-Large. He says he plans to use the office to continue working for LGBTQ+ equality (he spearheaded major victories against conversion therapy and LGBTQ+ discrimination during in his first term), as well as addressing environmental concerns related to water management.
6. Reggie Harris, Cincinnati City Council
A first-time candidate, Reggie Harris ranked among the top three finishers for nine seats for Cincinnati City Council in a race that, at one point, at 34 people running! A professional dancer turned social worker, Harris is the first out gay Black man to win a council seat in Cincinnati history, and will be the third out LGBTQ+ person sitting at that table once he is sworn in.
7. Kathy Adams, Upper Arlington City Council
Attorney Kathy Adams won her first run for Upper Arlington City Council. Adams says her goal is to ensure there is representation for the new Upper Arlington in the city’s development plans – including the LGBTQ+ community – and plans to invite LGBTQ+ students to her swearing in to show them they have a seat at the table in Upper Arlington politics.
8. Tom Hetrick, Youngstown City Council President
In his first run for public office, city planner and community organizer Tom Hetrick beat out two independents to become Youngstown’s City Council President. Hetrick will be the first out gay man to hold that title.
9. Chrisondra Goodwine, Dayton School Board
First-time candidate Chrisondra Goodwin won her historic election to Dayton School Board. In addition to being just the second out LGBTQ+ person to sit on Dayton School Board, the lawyer and community organizer is the first out LGBTQ+ person of color to hold public office in Dayton history.
10. Malia Lewis, Cleveland’s Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board
Malia Lewis will remain the first and only out school board member in Cleveland’s Cleveland Heights-University Heights district after winning her reelection bid. Improving the image of local schools to retain students (and funding) and fixing racial achievement gaps in education will remain top priorities for the school board member.
11. Anthony Gomez, Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education
Incumbent Anthony Gomez will continue in his historic role as the first out, Hispanic, and youngest person to sit on Cuyahoga Falls’ Board of Education. In addition to working to make the district more welcoming to all students – especially LGBTQ+ youth – he says applying the lessons of the pandemic and its immense challenges to schools will be key to his approach to his second term.
12. Bill Hedrick, Franklin County Municipal Judge
Bill Hedrick won his first campaign for Franklin County Municipal Judge. A 25-year veteran of the Franklin County Municipal Court, he becomes the third out judge to be elected in Franklin County, and the just the fourth in the whole state.
13-23. AND TONS MORE
Additional LGBTQ+ Ohio winners include Kara Ault (Galion City Council), Russ Balthis (Cuyahoga Falls City Council), Matt Boettcher (Golf Manor City Council), Aurelio Diaz (Mansfield City Council), Michelle Turner Ganz (Coshocton City Council), Robert Grimm (Glouster City Council), Megan Kilgore (Columbus City Auditor), Joe Lacey (Dayton School Board), Mike McAllister (Franklin County Municipal Court Judge), Micah McCarey (Athens City Council), and Ross Widenor (Munroe Falls City Council).
As we celebrate the winners, we also tip our hats to the numerous LGBTQ+ candidates who ran this year – Jeremy Blake, Kristin Bryant, Mario Clopton-Zymler, Keara Dever, David Donofrio, Kyle Johnson, Scott Kirschman, Joshua Koehler, Randy Lambert, Jay Mattlin, Heather Rodenborg, Al Snodgrass, and Kari Suhadolnik. Their passion for making a difference in their communities – and their willingness to put themselves out there by running for office exemplify leadership and will also undoubtedly help blaze the trail for other LGBTQ+ candidates to follow tomorrow. 🔥