LGBT path to Council


The first two hurdles for the two out LGBT candidates for City Council have now been cleared.

First was filing their petitions. Sherrie Cohen filed with about 6,000 and Paul Steinke with about 3,000. Next up was pulling a ballot position. In that race there was no winner, and here’s why.

Presently there are 21 Democrats vying for five at-Large Council seats, with four incumbents among them. Ballot positions are chosen by picking a number from an old Horn & Hardart coffee can. Since there are only five seats and 21 candidates, reason holds that the first five have the best positions.

Neither Cohen nor Steinke drew a spot in the top five, or even the top 10: Cohen got 14 and Steinke 11. But, guess what? None of the incumbents pulled in the first five either. So that means Cohen and Steinke are still in the game. 

Usually the first five are the most-coveted positions, since theirs are the first names voters see. But with no incumbents at the top of the list, the party will put out a ballot with incumbents and challengers scattered across the board, and it comes down to Democratic Party support and the coalition built by the candidates’ campaign.

For the party endorsement, Cohen has an edge. At the Democratic Party Policy meeting last Saturday, when party leaders decided on who to recommend to the ward leaders, she was presented by her ward leader, who spoke of the support Cohen has received from other ward leaders, as well as her endorsements. Steinke did not have a ward leader presenting him.

Then there’s the diversity issue. You probably thought I was going to mention that Cohen would be the first out lesbian in a major elected position in our city, a political role model.  That might be true, but I was actually going to make clear that there are no Jewish members of Council at present.

We’re lucky to have both of these candidates representing our community, and we’d be proud to have both of them serve on Council.