Tom Daley
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Trans/Nonbinary Candidate Has Historic Primary Win in Pennsylvania

Tyler Titus

Tyler Titus has won the Democratic primary for county executive in Erie County, Pa., and is on track to become the first out transgender person to hold such a post in the nation.

Titus, who is trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary, was declared winner of the primary Wednesday afternoon. There were four candidates in the Democratic field for Tuesday’s primary, and Titus and Carl Anderson each held the lead at various times when votes were being counted, the Erie Times-News reports. “On Wednesday, the narrow lead Titus entered the day with stayed intact until the final, unofficial results were announced at 4 p.m.,” the paper notes.

Titus, a mental health counselor, already made history when they were elected to the Erie School Board in 2017, becoming the first out trans elected official in Pennsylvania. Titus is currently board president and one of only nine out nonbinary elected officials in the U.S. The city of Erie is the county seat for Erie County, which is located in northwestern Pennsylvania and is the 15th most populous county in the state.

Titus spoke to supporters and the media outside the Erie County Courthouse after the results were announced. “My name may have been on the ballot today, but this victory is ours,” Titus said, according to the Times-News. “This victory belongs to the working people of Erie County. This victory belongs to those who want new leadership, who believe in Erie’s future. Today, Erie County Democrats decided they wanted the kid from Titusville who grew up in poverty alongside 12 siblings to a logger and nurse, who knows what it’s like to struggle, knows what it’s like when systems fail but believes so deeply in what we can all be.”

In November, Titus, 36, will face Republican primary winner Brenton Davis, the owner of a construction company. The incumbent county executive, Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper, is not seeking reelection. Anderson, currently a member of the Erie City Council, is considering running as a write-in candidate, but he may not be able to do so “because of a Pennsylvania law that restricts a candidate who lost in a primary from filing to run in a general election,” the Times-News reports.

Titus’s priorities include universal health care, economic equity, support for public education, and fighting racism in the criminal justice system. “We need to reform [criminal justice] so that we don’t have a carceral system that tears apart families and disproportionately harms Black and indigenous communities,” their website says. Titus has promised to “fiercely defend organized labor,” invest in infrastructure, create jobs in renewable energy, and “invest in the most underfunded schools and work to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Titus, hailed the candidate’s primary win. “Tyler’s primary victory amplifies the disconnect between voters who are embracing qualified trans leaders and the bigoted politicians who attack trans people for their own perceived political gain,” Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker said in a press release. “Tyler’s candidacy is a bright spot in an otherwise difficult year for trans people, and the general election is an important test of whether an out trans leader can win in one of the swingiest districts in America. While Tyler is poised to make history as the first out trans county executive in U.S. history, their vision and agenda for Erie County is focused not on history, but on improving the lives of people in the county.”

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