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Lesbian wins at-large spot on Ogden City Council

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On November 7, Marcia White made history as she became the first openly gay candidate to win election to Ogden’s city council.  White, who pulled in endorsements from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the Utah AFL-CIO, Good Government PAC, and Equality Utah, among others, secured 64% of the vote.

White is relatively new to Utah, having relocated from Nebraska in 1997.  Her resume boasts an impressive level of community service dating back to her teenage years on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in her hometown.  After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees (public administration) from the University of Nebraska she worked in the health industry before moving to Utah in 1997 to work for the University of Utah.

Since that time she has owned her own business as a health care consultant, having previously owned and operated a medical practice management and billing company.  She based her campaign upon responsible growth, education, and community building.

While White openly acknowledged her orientation on her website, plainly stating that she “happily resides in Ogden with my partner of 18 years Nancy Knape, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.”  There is nothing on her site that indicates her positions on LGBT-equality issues, although her supporters page lists prominent LGBT activists Allison Beddard (member of the Utah Pride board of directors) and Jane & Tami Marquardt, who have given significantly in terms of both time and money to equality causes over the years.

Ogden is one of the municipalities that followed Salt Lake City in passing employment and housing non-discrimination ordinances in 2011.  The first ordinance was vetoed by Mayor Matt Godfrey, but overturned unanimously on March 15, 2011 after language was inserted that ensured the ordinance would not violate First Amendment rights to free speech and religious belief.

This year Ogden had two openly gay candidates on its ballot, White for an at-large, or city wide, seat and Turner Bitton running in Municipal Ward 3.  Bitton’s race was much closer, with him finishing just over 100 votes shy of incumbent Doug Stephens.  As more absentee and mail-in ballots were counted, Bitton conceded the race to Stephens.

Mark Chambers, an openly gay Bed and Breakfast owner and town councilman, lost the Springdale mayoral race by a mere eight votes.  There are 306 registered voters in this town of 547 people. Nearly 80 percent call themselves Republican, 18 percent Democrat and 2 percent independents. In 2012 nearly 83 percent voted for Romney and 16 percent for Obama. In 2008, 76 percent voted for McCain and 21 percent for Obama.

Springdale is also one of the municipalities that has passed a non-discrimination ordinance, a move that Chambers helped to champion.  He said the only opposition to the measure came from people questioning the need for such protections.  “The most difficult part about passing the ordinance was convincing others that it was needed because the culture is already so welcoming,” Chambers told QSaltLake at the time the ordinance passed.

In Salt Lake City, candidate for District 7 Amy Barry, also openly gay, was eliminated in the primary.

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