Leading from the Left

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Change, One Step at a Time

People sometimes ask me if it really matters whether or not gay men or lesbians are elected to office. The argument goes something like: "Surely, a supportive straight elected official will support your issues just as well as you can?"

It's a well-intentioned question, often asked by a friend or supporter who--niaively, I suggest--believes that acceptance of homosexuality is closer at hand than it actually is. Because this question is meant kindly, I usually resist answering by asking, in return, "Would women have made the advances they have if it had been up to men alone? Can we really expect that African-Americans would be where they are today if they'd just sat on their hands waiting for white people to up and decide to share power?"

The answer is self-evident.

It's for this reason that electing openly lesbian or gay candidates to public office is important. Without a seat at the table, change is unlikely. A seat at the table facilitates public discourse in a way that is unique and powerful. Even in a progressive area like Orange County, having openly lesbian or gay elected officials is important.

That's why I'm so proud of Lydia Lavelle for running for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen this year. She will bring a set of life experiences to the BoA this is currently lacking. While there isn't a "lesbian" position on sidewalks or garbage collection or taxes, there are unique life experiences that will add depth to discussions. Each of us--white, black, latino, young, old, male, female, gay, straight--each of us brings a unique voice to the decision-making process. Lydia will bring hers, and it will serve the people well.

But she brings alot more to the table as well. Lydia is as strong a candidate as there is for the BoA this year. She serves on the Planning Board, is a resident of the newly annexed area, and has more than a decade's worth of experience in recreation and parks issues from her time living in Durham before moving to Carrboro. Lydia, a former law partner of Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy, brings a sharp intellect and steadiness to this campaign. She will be a great advocate for the people of Carrboro if they choose to elect her in November.

I wish Lydia well in this race.

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