Jackie Biskupski wins the mayor election in Salt Lake City, becoming the first lesbian to hold office after beating incumbent Ralph Becker. The vote totals show her with 51.5 percent of the vote to Becker’s 48.5 percent, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
While Biskupski is the first LGBT person to be elected mayor there, or in any major city in the state, she isn’t the first liberal Democrat — Becker also proudly claimed that designation, as did a previous mayor, Rocky Anderson. Jackie is now mayor of the same city that’s home to the headquarters of the famously conservative Mormon Church.
During their campaign, Jackie Biskupski and Becker, who had served two terms, generally voiced agreement on their goals for the city, such as improving public transportation, fighting crime, and reducing homelessness, with some differences over how to accomplish them.
As Jackie Biskupski wins the mayor election, she praised Becker, saying, “His actions and programs have benefited Salt Lake City,” the Tribune reports. She said she is forming a transition team that will take input from city employees to assure a smooth change in administrations when she is sworn in January 4.
“We are very aware that today is historic, but today is not just about making history. It is about people,” Biskupski said Tuesday. “It is about effecting change for the sake of so many people in this community who felt like they had not been heard. We will move forward today with ears wide open, and there is no question you will be heard. City employees wanted strong leadership that made them feel they were being listened to,” she added. “We need to meet with existing staff and figure out how to move forward.”
This is the second “first” for Biskupski; she also was the first LGBT person elected to the Utah legislature, winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1998. She ended up serving seven terms. Before entering politics, she was an insurance claims investigator.
While Jackie Biskupski wins the mayor election, it becomes “historic,” said Equality Utah executive director Troy Williams. “Her victory sends a powerful message to all LGBTQ Utahns that their sexual orientation will never be a limitation to public service. We look forward to working alongside Mayor-elect Biskupski to advance policies that will benefit all Utahns.”
Today’s official vote count for Jackie Biskupski also affirmed Derek Kitchen’s election to a seat on the City Council. Kitchen was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that brought marriage equality to Utah. He becomes the second openly gay member of the City Council, joining Stan Penfold.