Primary season is well underway and from Oregon to Kentucky, LGBTQ candidates have already made history in races across the country. On June 7, California voters will have their shot at making history too.
According to LGBTQ Victory Institute’s Out for America map, California has more LGBTQ elected officials than any other state with 163 out officials serving at all levels of government, from Congress to Mayor. While there are still serious representation gaps for LGBTQ people in the state, there are also clear signs this gap is closing.
This year, there is a record number of out LGBTQ candidates running for office in California. Here are some of the LGBTQ game changers to keep an eye on next week.
Ricardo Lara serves as California’s Insurance Commissioner and is running for reelection this year. Following his eight years of elected service in the California legislature, he made history in 2018 as the first out gay person to ever be elected to statewide office in California history.
During his time in office, Lara has taken important steps to increase equity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he directed insurance companies to return insurance premiums in order to help families maintain financial stability. He has also authored legislation to create a single-payer health care system for California and worked to address climate change which continues to impact California.
Robert Garcia is currently the mayor of Long Beach, California. This year, he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives for District 42. If elected, he will be the first out LGBTQ immigrant elected to Congress.
As mayor, Garcia has fought to expand and protect rights for women, immigrants and the LGBTQ community. He has championed progressive education policy, launched an aggressive climate action plan and supported workers by increasing wages. He is the first mayor of Long Beach to have appointed a majority of women to city commissions and boards.
Will Rollins is a former federal prosecutor in Southern California. He is now running for the U.S. House of Representatives in District 41 against one of the most homophobic members of Congress, Ken Calvert.
For the past five years, Rollins served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney where he prosecuted a variety of terrorism cases. Recently, he helped prosecute some of the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Now, he is ready to bring this commitment to justice and accountability to Washington.
Ron Galperin currently serves as Los Angeles City Controller and is now running for California State Controller. He is the first out LGBTQ person ever elected citywide in Los Angeles. If successful this year, he would be one of only two out LGBTQ statewide elected officials in California.
As Los Angeles Controller, Galperin helped the city navigate the unprecedented economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of his most important accomplishments was ensuring that the 40,000 city employees were supported during the economic uncertainty of the pandemic. Before serving in public office, he was a journalist and small business owner.
Rep. Mark Takano (D) is running for reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives for District 39. He has served in Congress since 2012 and will continue to be the only out LGBTQ Asian American person serving in Congress. When he won in 2012, he also became the first out LGBTQ person of color ever elected to Congress.
During his time in Congress, Takano has worked to improve the lives of all Californians. From improving access to education and health care to supporting small businesses and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has delivered results for California and the LGBTQ community. Before serving in Congress, he was a teacher at Rialto High School in Riverside County.
LGBTQ Victory Fund works to achieve and sustain equality by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ elected officials at all levels of government while ensuring they reflect the diversity of those they serve. Since 1991, Victory Fund has helped thousands of openly LGBTQ candidates win local, state and federal elections.