Two LGBTQ+ candidates will be on the ballot in November following primary win

Malcolm Kenyatta and Andre Carroll
From left, Malcolm Kenyatta and Andre Carroll.

Following wins in the April 23 primary election, Malcolm Kenyatta and Andre D. Carroll — two young, Black, gay men from Philadelphia — will represent Democrats in the upcoming election. Kenyatta, who currently serves as a state representative, will get a chance to become auditor general, and Carroll will likely become the next state representative for a district in North Philadelphia.

Both candidates are advancing for a shot at leadership that could impact their own communities and the whole state. They’ve promoted themselves as people who understand the struggles of average Americans and aren’t afraid of the work it’ll take to enact meaningful change.

“We will only have a government that meets the fullness of its promise when we have a government that reflects the fullness of the American experience,” Kenyatta told PGN.

Kenyatta became the first openly LGBTQ+ person of color to serve in the General Assembly when he was elected as a state representative in 2018 and is serving his third term. He currently chairs the elections subcommittee of the State Government Committee and is a member of the Commerce and Finance committees.

In 2023, President Joe Biden appointed Kenyatta to be the chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.

As a state representative, he’s sponsored and promoted progressive legislation that would grant anti discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ people across the state, decriminalize HIV, increase the minimum wage, support vulnerable families, improve transparency around election spending and more.

In the fall, Kenyatta will face incumbent Tim DeFoor, the first Republican to be elected to the position since 1997, whose leadership since 2020 hasn’t been without criticism.

When DeFoor performed an audit of 12 public schools, he asserted that districts misused legal processes to raise taxes without need. At the time, only seven of Pennsylvania’s 500 districts had requested these tax increases. Critics have claimed that DeFoor does not truly understand the budgeting practices of school districts. Following that audit, DeFoor moved the responsibility of auditing schools to the Department of Education — a job Kenyatta would prefer remains with the auditor general.

The auditor general is a “watchdog” for the state, monitoring the way public funds are spent. Officials serve a four-year term in the position but can be re-elected to serve four more years in the role, where they primarily conduct audits. Whoever holds the position has the opportunity to crack down on fraud or misuse and wasteful habits, recommending potential solutions for the issues he spots.

“Last night we made history and made evident the power of Pennsylvania’s working families to elect leaders that fight for us,” Kenyatta told PGN. “I’m running to be the next auditor general because it’s time for the underdog to be the watchdog for Pennsylvania’s working families.”

Kenyatta previously explained that his experience working as a state representative qualifies him for the role as his duties in the General Assembly requires him to be a steward of the state’s funds. He said he’s used to asking hard questions of state agencies that request money, ensuring they’ve spent it responsibly in the past and have a strong plan for its use in the future.

The position would also allow Kenyatta to influence policies and best practices, informing state leaders how to use funding to tackle specific problems that impact their own communities. Kenyatta’s priorities include plans to support and rebuild the infrastructure behind public health, schools and safety. This includes recommendations for gun violence intervention and to allocate funding in a way that addresses safety concerns by improving systemic challenges rather than relying on police. He also hopes to combat union-busting wage theft by creating a Bureau of Labor and Worker Protections to investigate businesses and protect independent contractors.

When casting his vote, Kenyatta told City & State Pennsylvania, “It’s not every day that a Black, gay kid from North Philly gets to represent Pennsylvanians in this way.”

Carroll is similarly appreciative of his own opportunity to serve and lead and realizes it’s because Kenyatta came first.

“A big part of me walking through this door is [that it’s] a door he’s opened,” Carroll told PGN. “I look forward to being able to work with him in any capacity possible.”

“It’s a big deal yesterday that we were able to have our first openly gay Democratic statewide nominee,” he added about Kenyatta’s historic primary election win. “And I look forward to working with Malcolm to make sure he’s not the last.”

Carroll addressed supporters during a speech on election night at A King’s Cafe in Germantown, underlining that his campaign helped him believe that his community can work together to make the positive changes that have previously felt impossible become inevitable.

Many of his political stances come from his lived experiences and from paying attention to what’s happening in his community. During his speech, he alluded to his own upbringing and nontraditional path towards leadership. Carroll was raised by a single grandmother due to his mother’s drug addiction and his father’s incarceration for nonviolent offenses. He had to drop out of college due to the cost of living, and the high school he attended is one of many across the city that has been closed.

Carroll didn’t face an opponent in the primary. State Rep. Stephen Kinsey — who served District 201 for 11 years — is retiring. Carroll previously ran against him in the 2022 primary and lost by just 15 percentage points, signaling that voters were ready to embrace new leadership and appreciated Carroll’s message.

Carroll’s district, which includes parts of Germantown, East Germantown, West Oak Lane, Ogontz and Logan. The district, which has never elected a Republican to the position, is likely to confirm Carroll as their state representative this fall.

“Tomorrow, we’re taking our vision for change to the halls of the Pennsylvania state capital,” he told supporters during his speech. “A vision that includes fully funding our public schools, … a vision that includes reforming our broken criminal justice system, a vision that includes raising our minimum wage and moving working families forward, a vision that cares for our most vulnerable populations — our young people and our seniors, a vision that guarantees a person the right to choose what happens with their body and decide who they spend the rest of their life with.”

“The issues that impact the LGBTQ community are issues that transcend the community,” he told PGN. “It’s the issues we talked about in this campaign — about healthcare, about education, about housing, about discrimination.”

“Yesterday to me was a very pivotal point because it just proved that a community like mine — which has never had an LGBTQ member represent them on a state level — their voice was heard and they’re ready to send someone like me to the state capitol,” he said. “They’re ready to include everyone — not just those who they deem acceptable in those who have always been here.”

“I look forward to being able to build out this coalition,” he said about supporting other LGBTQ+ candidates in neighboring states and about working with other LGBTQ+ elected leaders. “Everyone needs to be a part of this conversation in order for us to make sure your democracy is a real, lived experience for everyone.”

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