The Palm Springs, Calif., City Council now has transgender and bisexual members – and is entirely LGBT or queer.
Lisa Middleton made history as the first openly trans candidate elected to a nonjudicial office in California (Victoria Kolakowski was elected an Alameda County Superior Court judge in 2010). She and Christy Holstege, a bi woman, won the two open seats on the City Council in a field of six candidates in Tuesday’s election. Their election means that the desert city’s council is 100 percent LGBT or queer, according to Equality California, with representation from across the spectrum of those identities.
Middleton received about 31 percent of the vote and Holstege 30 percent, The Desert Sun reports. Palm Springs elects council members on a citywide, nonpartisan basis. “It’s all because of all of you that we are here tonight, celebrating a victory, a historic victory for our city and for our state,” Middleton told supporters Tuesday night, according to the Sun.
Holstege, the first millennial elected to the council, won in her first bid for office. “Now is when we can say we didn’t know what we were doing,” she joked, the Sun reports. “We figured it out just with hard work.”
Middleton, retired from the California State Compensation Insurance Fund, is a member of the Palm Springs Planning Commission and chairwoman of the Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs, and a member of the boards of directors of the Desert Horticulture Society and the Desert LGBTQ Center. In 2014 she was the center’s interim executive director. On the planning commission she has advocated for downtown renewal, increased use of solar energy, and cooperation between developers and neighborhoods. She is married to longtime partner Cheryl. Holstege is an attorney who focuses on assisting underserved communities in the area, including people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, homeless individuals, injured workers, personal injury victims, and victims of discrimination and violence. Both women were endorsed by Equality California and Victory Fund.
Both organizations hailed the groundbreaking nature of Middleton’s win. “In light of the repeated attacks on transgender people from the federal government, tonight’s wins by Lisa Middleton in Palm Springs and other transgender candidates in Minneapolis and Virginia are a beacon of hope that voters have embraced values of equality and inclusion,” said a statement issued by Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “By becoming the first out transgender person to be elected to a nonjudicial office in California, Lisa is paving the way for others to follow in her footsteps in California and across the nation. Her first place finish out of a field of 6 candidates demonstrates that a glass ceiling for transgender people who want to serve in elected office was not only broken, but was shattered in Palm Springs. With the election of Lisa and Christy Holstege, the city of Palm Springs will now be represented by a city council that is 100 percent LGBTQ.”
“Lisa Middleton shattered a lavender ceiling in California this election day – breaking down barriers to become California’s first trans nonjudicial elected official,” said Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of Victory Fund, in a press release. “Trans people remain severely underrepresented in government nationwide, so Lisa’s victory is important not just for Palm Springs or California, but for the entire country. Now more than ever, we need trans voices in the halls of power because they humanize our lives, change the debate and move forward more inclusive legislation. Lisa’s historic election victory will be remembered as an important milestone in the movement for LGBTQ equality, and will undoubtedly inspire other trans people to run for office and win.”