November 7, 2017 at 1:20 pm PST | by Troy Masters
Key LGBT races to watch in Election 2017 as voters head to polls

From left, Danica Roem, Shannon Cuttle, Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham (Photos courtesy of the respective campaigns)

Voters are heading to the polls in 2017 during an off-year election, but casting their ballots in a number of places in key races of significance to LGBT people, including a few that could result in milestone wins for the transgender community.

With a record number of transgender people running for office at the local level, 2017 could shakeup the political landscape for the transgender community — potentially opening the door for future wins in higher office.

Here’s a sampling of key races to watch tonight:

1. Danica Roem vs. Bob Marshall in Virginia

The highest-profile LGBT race nationwide is Democratic transgender journalist Danica Roem’s bid to unseat State Del. Bob Marshall in Virginia’s 13th district. Marshall’s notoriously anti-LGBT history includes masterminding an amendment that once banned same-sex marriage in the state and introducing a bill that would barred transgender people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Roem could be the first openly transgender person elected to public office in Virginia and the first openly transgender person elected and seated to a state legislature nationwide. Roem’s race attracted nationwide attention: She’s raised more than $374,000 for her race, roughly four times than Marshall, according to the Washington Post.

Although Marshall is a 13-term incumbent, Roem could bring Marshall’s political career to an end. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the 13th district in Virginia by a two-point margin, making a Democratic win in the realm of possibility there.

The Washington Blade’s Michael K. Lavers is on the ground with the Roem campaign will provide updates later this evening.

2. Trans candidates could make history in Minneapolis

Also poised to make history are two candidates running for seats on the Minneapolis City Council who could be the first transgender people elected to city council in a major U.S. city.

One is Andrea Jenkins, running to represent Ward 8 on the city council, and the other is Phillipe Cunningham, who’s running to represent Ward 4. If elected, Cunningham would be the first openly transgender man to hold public office anywhere nationwide.

3. Non-binary candidate runs in New Jersey

In New Jersey, Shannon Cuttle is running for a seat on the South Orange/Maplewood Board of Education and would be the first non-binary person elected to office in state.

Prior to her campaign, Cuttle has worked to confront anti-LGBT bullying in schools and director of the Safe Schools Action Network. As an LGBT activist, Cuttle was among those arrested in 2010 in Nancy Pelosi’s D.C. office in protest over inaction on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Other transgender candidates running for office are Lisa Middleton, who’s seeking a seat on the Palm Springs City Council in California; Kristen Browde, who’s running to become New Castle Town Supervisor in New York; Tyler Titus, who’s running for a seat on the Erie School Board in Pennsylvania; and Sophia Hawes-Tingey, who’s running to become mayor of Midvale in Utah.

4. Lesbian Muslim runs for city council in Atlanta

A host of gay candidates are seeking office in Atlanta, which is holding municipal races in 2017. One candidate of interest is Liliana Bakhtiari, who could become the first out lesbian Muslim to win election in the United States. According to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Bakhtiari raised $24,000 more than her incumbent opponent — four-term Atlantic City Council member Natalyn Archibong — as of earlier this month.

Other gay candidates seeking office in Atlanta are Cathy Woolard, who’s running for mayor and could be the first openly gay candidate to become mayor in a major city in the South; Alex Wan, who’s running to become president of the city council; Kirk Rich, who’s running for Wan’s old city council seat; and Josh McNair, who’s running for a seat on the Fulton County Commission and would be the first openly gay black person elected to office in Georgia.

5. Lesbian candidate runs to become mayor of Seattle

Also running for office is Jenny Durkan, a lesbian former criminal defense attorney and federal prosecutor who’s seeking to become mayor of Seattle. She’d be the first openly gay mayor of the seat.

Prior to her campaign, Durkan was appointed by former President Obama to serve as U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, making her the first openly gay U.S. attorney in the country.

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