With the resignation of the first and last openly-gay legislator in Utah, Jackie Biskupski, the House District 30 seat is up for grabs. The Democratic Party delegates will select a replacement on July 16 and the filing deadline for the race is June 27. As of press time, there are three candidates for the position: Nikki Boyer, Brian Doughty and Dimitrios Moumoulidis.
Since she was 18 years old, Nikki Boyer has been an ardent supporter of Democrats and the Democratic Party ideals. She has been involved in numerous campaigns, she was the chair of the Stonewall caucus for three terms and she is the board president of the Utah Pride Center.
Boyer said she is extremely passionate about her party ideals, but until recently, she never wanted to run for office.
“I had never seriously considered it,” Boyer said. “But I think we need to keep a woman in the seat and I think we need to have someone who is LGBT in the seat. And I fit the bill for both.”
Boyer said after she heard about the opening and heard which candidates were running, she thought about her own candidacy.
“I thought about it for about five days and I finally decided to enter the race,” Boyer said.
The Idaho native has fought for queer-friendly candidates and pushed for more inclusive legislation. However, she is a lot more than just a queer-activist.
“I love my neighborhood and I would absolutely represent all the interests of all my constituents,” Boyer said. “One of the biggest changes I would like to see would be to make a more fair redistricting process for the future.”
She also cited environmental causes and educational funding and reform as some other issues she would like to champion.
“I have a passion and experience that will help me push for some real change on the hill,” Boyer said. “I think I would make a most excellent representative for my district.”
Boyer said her experience as a citizen lobbyist and her extensive involvement with the Democratic Party will help her hit the ground running and start working immediately.
“I am passionate about what I do and I am very passionate about the many causes,” Boyer said. “I think we can really effect some major change and I think it’s necessary.”
The Texas native is no stranger to Utah politics and has been involved in LGBT causes as well as community and clean-air issues. He served on the board of Equality Utah, he is the chair elect of the East Side Community Council and he served on the Salt Lake City Transit Advisory Board.
The private business owner has come to love Utah for its excellent standard of living along with the terrific outdoor activities.
“I live with my partner, Rian, and we’ve been together for about two and a half years now,” Doughty said. “We’ve got two dogs, two cats and we’re just like any other Utah family. We have challenges, but we live in Utah for a reason.”
Doughty said he would be a strong advocate, not just for the LGBT constituency, but also for all the variety of liberal and progressive issues that are important to the members of his district. Drawing on his experience owning a private business that sells construction equipment, Doughty said he has the ability to understand good policy that can help grow the economy.
“Having been in sales virtually my whole adult life, I know how to work around objections and I know I can work well in the legislature,” Doughty said.
And while he said he would support pro-LGBT legislation and be a strong advocate for the cause, there’s more to his political platform than just him being openly gay, he said.
“I think it’s important to have an openly gay representative on the hill,” Doughty said. “We can offer a unique perspective that, I think, is important. But there is so much more to my campaign than that. I wouldn’t just represent gay constituents, but all the important issues from my district.”
Along with LGBT issues, environmental concerns and community concerns, Doughty said he would try to help bring about change to liquor laws and ensure funding for state liquor stores.
“I think it’s all a little bit ridiculous and I would love to help bring a sense of fresh air and experience, both as a business owner and someone who drinks alcohol,” Doughty said.
Doughty, a former candidate for Salt Lake City Council, said his ability to work with the opposition and his background makes him a desirable candidate to fill the position.
“I will bring a strong voice to represent District 30,” Doughty said. “I can collaborate well with people from all different backgrounds.”
From protecting against attacks on Medicaid to helping draft legislation for compassionate immigration legislation, Dimitrios Moumoulidis has found his life calling in political activism. The former software entrepreneur has dedicated his life to working for liberal and progressive causes and he played a key role working with Sen. Luz Robles in drafting immigration legislation last session.
“Generally, I am very liberal and very progressive with social issues,” Moumoulidis said.
While he does not identify as queer, Moumoulidis said he is an ardent supporter of pro-LGBT legislation.
“I would absolutely support a statewide non-discrimination act and other pro-gay rights legislative policies,” Moumoulidis said. “I am not gay, but I do listen to the concerns of others and I know that it is an issue of human rights and equality for all.”
The Los Angeles native said his connections and experience working with different groups with the Utah Legislature would be one of his biggest advantages.
“I could start working hard from day one,” Moumoulidis said. “No one knows right now what’s going to happen with the redistricting and I can make use of the time this seat will have left.”
The self-described liberal said he does lean slightly more conservative when it comes to fiscal issues, but he is confident that it’s possible to fund all different projects, such as education and social projects.
“I would represent all of the constituents in District 30,” Moumoulidis said. “I am not out to take any victories or positions away from the LGBT community. I think we all need to remember that we’re on the same side.”
Moumoulidis worked with Sen. Scott McCoy, who is gay, and helped on his campaign. Moumoulidis also said he has volunteered for Equality Utah and he is familiar with the concerns of the queer community.
“I am very open to discussions and I am there to work with all of the people I represent,” Moumoulidis said. “I do understand the need and desire to have an openly gay representative. But I don’t think that a one-dimensional candidate should be ushered in just for the sake of having that quota filled.”
Moumoulidis said he was not referring to any candidate in specific, only addressing the concern of having a specific number of people to fill positions for minorities.
“I really can offer a wide range of experience on and off the hill,” Moumoulidis said. “My ability to help build coalitions and work with other legislators is also a huge benefit I can offer for District 30.”