Gay Redwood City council candidate Sturken wins

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday December 6, 2022
Share this Post:
Chris Sturken has won his race for a seat on the City Council in Redwood City. Photo: Courtesy the candidate
Chris Sturken has won his race for a seat on the City Council in Redwood City. Photo: Courtesy the candidate

By a 50-vote margin, gay Redwood City Planning Commissioner Chris Sturken won election to a council seat in his city. He was one of three candidates running for the District 2 seat, which includes the downtown area.

Initially in second place for days after the November 8 election, Sturken in mid-November then vaulted into first place. With all votes now counted, he won with 40.74% of the vote for a total of 1,091 votes.

When he takes his oath of office next Monday, December 12, the 28-year-old Sturken will be the youngest man on his City Council in recent memory and its third out member to be elected in recent years. Two years ago saw the elections of Michael Smith, a gay Black business entrepreneur, and Lissette Espinoza-Garnica, who is a queer, nonbinary Chicanx, though Smith resigned this summer due to moving back to Connecticut to care for an ailing family member.

"It was a nail-biter; it was agonizing, you know," Sturken told the Bay Area Reporter this week about waiting for additional vote counts to be posted by San Mateo County election officials. "But I was hopeful the entire time. I had people left and right apologizing to me, saying, 'Oh, you ran such a good race.' I was like, 'It is not over yet!'"

Sturken is one of four new LGBTQ council members elected in the Silicon Valley region. In the most high-profile race gay Democratic Party official Omar Torres is set to return out leadership to the San Jose City Council for the first time in 16 years.

The San Jose native won election to the District 3 council seat in the Bay Area's largest city. Torres will be the first out person of color on the council and only its second out LGBTQ member.

Richard Mehlinger, who is queer and bisexual, will serve alongside queer Sunnyvale City Councilmember Alysa Cisneros, elected in 2020. He won election to the District 5 council seat.

In Cupertino J.R. Fruen, a gay man, won his second bid for a city council seat after losing his race two years ago. He was one of seven candidates running against an incumbent councilmember for three citywide council seats on last month's ballot.

With 15.90% of the vote, Fruen took third place in the race to win. The attorney will be the first LGBTQ person to serve on the Cupertino City Council when he takes his oath of office at 6 p.m. this Friday, December 9, at Cupertino Community Hall.

"I am tremendously grateful to our city, a home I have been lucky enough to share since I was a small child. I am ready to get to work to put us back on track - to carry out Cupertino's original vision of being an inclusive, forward-thinking city that cares for all of its people. But first, we celebrate!" wrote the councilmember-elect in a December 5 email inviting his supporters to join him at the swearing-in ceremony.

Those interested in attending can RSVP online here.

The four men's elections bring the number of out LGBTQ city council members on the Peninsula and in the South Bay to nine. James Coleman, who is bisexual, serves on the South San Francisco City Council.

Although he lost his bid to be his city's mayor last month, gay Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker has two more years left to his current council term. Gay Morgan Hill City Councilmember Rene Spring will also be up for reelection in 2024.

Lesbian San Carlos City Councilmember Laura Parmer-Lohan is departing, as rather than run for reelection this year she sought a San Mateo County supervisor seat. But she lost her race.

UPDATED 12/9/22 to correct that there will be nine LGBTQ council members in the Silicon Valley region due to Michael Smith resigning.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.