Minneapolis Elects 2 Transgender Candidates to City Council

November 08, 2017 06:17 PM

Minneapolis has elected a black transgender woman and a black transgender man to its city council, in what advocacy groups have described as a banner night for transgender people in public office across the nation.

Andrea Jenkins easily won the race Tuesday for an open seat in south Minneapolis, with roughly 73 percent of the vote. Jenkins, a 56-year-old poet and historian who transitioned in her 30s, spent years as a policy aide to two previous council members in the same ward.

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"It feels good to be respected, trusted and elected to hold this office," Jenkins said Wednesday afternoon.

"I want to uplift the voices of the marginalized communities, make sure those voices are heard at city hall.  This campaign has really given people a lot of hope" she said.

Jenkins says one of her top priorities will be police-community relations.

"We are going to be working with the chief and come up with some community-based solutions," she said.

Phillipe Cunningham, 29, narrowly won a northwestern Minneapolis ward by defeating longtime incumbent and council president Barb Johnson. His victory wasn't announced until Wednesday afternoon, due to the instant-runoff ranked-choice voting system Minneapolis uses.

RELATED: Jacob Frey Elected Mayor of Minneapolis

Jenkins won the same night that Danica Roem became the nation's first openly transgender state lawmaker by winning a Virginia statehouse seat. Roem soundly defeated Bob Marshall, a longtime Republican delegate who sponsored legislation that would have restricted transgender bathroom use and who called himself the state's "chief homophobe."

The victories add to a banner Tuesday for transgender people in public office. Victory Fund, a group that advocates for LGBT candidates, called Jenkins the first openly transgender woman elected to the city council of a major U.S. city.

Track the results of Minneapolis' mayoral, council and park board races here

"Americans are growing increasingly aware of trans equality and people, and this win will surely inspire other trans people to run for office and further inclusion in their communities," group president Aisha Moodie-Mills said in a statement.

Jenkins' victory set a new bar for transgender politicians in a region where the community has been visible for decades.

RELATED: Melvin Carter Wins Majority of Votes, Becomes First Black Mayor of St. Paul

In neighboring St. Paul, Susan Kimberly ran unsuccessfully for a second term on the city council in the '90s after serving a single term starting in 1974 — then as Bob Sylvester. She also unsuccessfully ran for the local county commission, but was later chosen by then-mayor Norm Coleman, a Republican, to serve as St. Paul's deputy mayor.

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The Associated Press

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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