Six years after he became the first openly transgender mayor in the U.S., Stu Rasmussen vacated his seat on Silvteron, Oregon's city council after losing the election to his opponent Rick Lewis, reports the Silverton Appeal Tribune.
Rasmussen — who uses male pronouns — served on his small Oregon town's council since 2004, and was elected mayor in 2008, then reelected in 2010, and again in 2012. Rasmussen had previously served as the town's mayor in the 1990s before coming out as trans, and also owns a local movie theater.
Rasmussen's 2008 election was met with a deluge of nationwide media attention from both supporters and detractors. But in a few short years, Rasmussen told reporters, times have changed.
"For a town of 10,000 to elect a transgender person as their mayor is pretty revolutionary," he explained to Portland news station KPTV. "We've seen a lot of other things now happening in the transgender community, that [it's] becoming much more mainstream. It's almost like, 'Oh, OK, no big deal.' But honestly, in 2008, it was a big deal."
This week, however, the biggest deal for Rasmussen and his supporters may be the possible effects that Rasmussen's departure will have on Silverton. Rasmussen, a fiscal conservative, spent his time in office, in part, fighting the expansion of a pedestrian mall in an attempt to keep Silverton's small town "charm" intact.
Rasmussen also told the Tribune that the council had faced strife and dysfunction during his tenure, and could not accomplish as much as he hoped in recent years.
Throughout his entire decade in office, though, Rasmussen was able successful in reaching several goals, including establishing an early warning system at Silver Creek Dam, building a new senior center, and creating a new skate park. He told reporters he would consider running for mayor — or other political office — if community members request it.
He also hopes he was able to show other trans people that they can remain in small towns and thrive.
"A lot of people who are transgender think, 'I can't be myself here. I have to go somewhere else, go to Portland or to San Francisco, and let the other side of me come out,'" he told the Tribune. "I transitioned in place. And the community came along with me."
Watch KPTV's exit interview with Rasmussen below.