Originally published on Advocate.com November 06 2003 12:00 AM ET
Voters in Palm Springs, Calif., on Tuesday elected the nation's first openly gay black mayor. Ron Oden, who was the city's mayor pro tem, defeated two-term incumbent mayor Will Kleindienst, winning 51.3% of the vote, The [Palm Springs] Desert Sun reports.
Political observers said that Oden won in large part because of the city's large number of gay residents, many of whom were united against Kleindienst. "The image was that he was homophobic," George Zander, of the Desert Stonewall Democrats, said of Kleindienst. "Whether it was true or not, it was out there."
But the mayor's supporters said the reputation wasn't warranted. "There is a backlash against Will from the gay community, but it is totally undeserved," said Daryl James, an openly gay man. "He loves and supports the gay community."
Meanwhile, in the San Francisco mayoral race, openly gay supervisor Tom Ammiano and openly lesbian city treasurer Susan Leal placed fourth and fifth on the ballot. Supervisor Gavin Newsom, the top vote getter in the election and a Democrat, now faces a run-off with the second-place finisher, Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, who is a member of the Green Party.
In New Jersey, openly gay Democrat Jim Morrison, who was a contestant on the first series of the ABC reality show The Mole, lost his bid for the state senate.