Penfold Wins City Council Bid

The executive director of the Utah AIDS Foundation has become Salt Lake City’s first openly gay councilman while another gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-friendly candidate lost her bid for a seat on the governing body.

On Nov. 3 Stan Penfold beat out rival Phil Carroll for the recently vacated District 3 seat, which represents Capitol Hill, Federal Heights, Guadalupe and the upper Avenues. In July, District 3’s Councilman Eric Jergensen announced that he would not seek re-election. Before Jergensen’s announcement his company, Contour Composites, had been plagued for months by accusations of unpaid debts. Ultimately, Jergensen said he was leaving in order to spend more time with his family, including his newborn son. He put his support behind Penfold, who at the time was one of six candidates bidding for the seat.

Another gay-friendly candidate, Lisa Allcott, did not advance further than the primary election, winning just 15 percent of the vote despite a promising early lead in fundraising.

Jergensen was just one of several politicians and big name Salt Lake residents who gave Penfold their blessing in the nonpartisan election. His many endorsements included not only those of gay and transgender rights group Equality Utah but Mayor Ralph Becker, former State Senator Paula Julander and Jill Remington Love, who represents District 5.  

Throughout his campaign, Penfold expressed support for a number of progressive measures including: immigrant rights, sustainable development and improving public transportation in the capitol city. He also expressed support for Becker’s proposal to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and disapproval over what he called “fear-based efforts to legislate against or intimidate minority groups” of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities.

Above all, he stressed the importance of the diversity in his district, and sited it as one of the reasons for his victory.

“This is just a really progressive neighborhood,” Penfold told the Salt Lake Tribune during his victory party at Em’s restaurant “The people who live here live here because it’s so diverse, and they want to see that continue.”

Penfold was out of his office at the Utah AIDS Foundation following the election and had not responded to requests for further comment by press time.

In District 1’s election, Leslie Reynolds-Benns lost her City Council bid to incumbent Carlton Christensen, the council’s chairman — her second bid since 2006. In August, Reynolds-Benns, an author and member of PFLAG, told QSaltLake that she had not planned to run again, but that she was moved to run by the defeat of Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative — a set of bills seeking to offer more protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Utahns — in this year’s general legislative session.

In District 5’s city council race, Love retained her seat after running unopposed — the second time she has done so.

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