Prizm News / November 7, 2017 / By Bob Vitale

Cincinnati and Newark become the first Ohio cities with two openly gay council members.


[EDITOR’S NOTE: After we posted this story Tuesday night with the headline “Ohio Voters Elect 11 Openly Gay and Lesbian Candidates,” we received emails from other candidates and their supporters with even better news. We’ve updated the article to reflect the election on Nov. 7 of 17 out candidates to local offices across Ohio. In all, 26 gay and lesbian candidates were on the ballot.]

Megan Kilgore
Ryan Messer
Chris Seelbach
Kerry McCormack
Shannon Hardin





Jeremy Blake
Ed Gorski
John Rach
Tamaya Dennard
Sean Fennell





Nick Komives
Patrick Bravo
Anthony Gomez
Jennifer Pauken
Ralph Wolfe






By Bob Vitale 

Gay and lesbian candidates were elected to nine city and village councils Tuesday, and 17 of 27 LGBTQ contenders won local offices across Ohio. 

David Donofrio
Matthew Boettcher

In all, openly gay and lesbian candidates won more than 356,000 votes. Among the day’s winners: Democrat Megan Kilgore was elected city auditor in Columbus with 77 percent of the vote, and Democrat Ryan Messer was the biggest vote-getter in a field of 13 candidates for the Cincinnati Board of Education. 

Incumbent city council members Chris Seelbach of Cincinnati, Kerry McCormack of Cleveland, Shannon Hardin of Columbus, Jeremy Blake of Newark, Ed Gorski of Olmsted Falls and John Rach of University Heights all won new terms easily.  

First-time candidates Tamaya Dennard of Cincinnati, Sean Fennell of Newark and Nick Komives of Toledo also won election to their city councils. 

Here are all of Tuesday’s results for openly gay and lesbian candidates:

• Incumbent school board member Patrick Bravo won re-election in Akron.

• Messer finished first in a field of 13 school board candidates in Cincinnati. Also among the winners: former Catholic high school administrator Mike Moroski, an ally who was fired by church officials in 2013 for refusing to delete a Facebook post in which he spoke of his support for marriage equality.

• Seelbach finished third and Dennard finished sixth in a field of 14 Cincinnati council candidates. The top nine were elected.

• McCormack, appointed last year to fill a vacant Cleveland City Council seat representing Ohio City, Tremont, Downtown and other neighborhoods in the city’s Ward 3,defeated challenger Logan Fahey with 85 percent of the vote.

• In her race for Columbus city auditor, Kilgore received almost 70,000 votes, which was 77 percent of the total cast.

• Columbus City Council Hardin won a new four-year term, finishing second in a six-candidate race for three council seats.

• Anthony Gomez was the first openly gay candidate elected to the school board in Cuyahoga Falls.

• Matthew Boettcher was retained by voters to the Village Council in the Cincinnati suburb of Golf Manor. He was appointed to the council this year.

• Jennifer Pauken, one of two openly gay Village Council members in the Columbus suburb of Minerva Park, was the only incumbent up for re-election and won a new term.

• Blake and Fennell were unopposed in their races for City Council seats in Newark.

• In the Cleveland suburb of Olmsted Falls, Gorski won a full term on the City Council. He was appointed in March to replace council member Jay Linn, who posted an anti-transgender sign outside his business and then resigned when the mayor proposed an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law.

• In addition to being the first openly gay elected official in Pickaway County, Ralph Wolfe says he thinks he also is the first non-farmer elected as a Scioto Township trustee.

• David Donofrio was elected to the Board of Education for South-Western City Schools, which is the sixth-largest district in Ohio and covers the western and southern suburbs of Columbus.

• Komives, who has been executive director for Equality Toledo, will be the first openly gay Toledo City Council member since 2006.

• Rach, who was appointed to the University Heights City Council in January 2016, was retained by voters.

Three openly gay incumbents lost races Tuesday: two-term City Council member Kevin Wadsworth Johnson in Portsmouth; three-term Dayton school board member Joe Lacey; and Maple Heights City Council President Richard Trojanski, who was running back in the district he represented for three terms.

In Cincinnati, out City Council candidates Seth Maney and the Rev. Lesley Jones fell short in their races. School board candidate Renee Hevia finished just shy of victory, and Hamilton County Municipal Court challenger Darlene Rogers was defeated.

In Columbus, Erin Upchurch, who ran on a ticket with progressive Democrats for the local school board, finished fourth in a race for three seats.

Daniel Dunchack lost a race for the Rocky River Board of Education in suburban Cleveland,