Political Notebook: Transgender Orange County candidate Wade falls short

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday February 1, 2023
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Stephanie Wade, left, came up short in her runoff race for a Seal Beach City Council seat against Lisa Landau. Photos: Wade, courtesy the campaign; Landau, courtesy Facebook
Stephanie Wade, left, came up short in her runoff race for a Seal Beach City Council seat against Lisa Landau. Photos: Wade, courtesy the campaign; Landau, courtesy Facebook

A transgender veteran has fallen short in her bid for a city council seat in the seaside town of Seal Beach, California. Stephanie Wade's candidacy had drawn attention within national LGBTQ political circles due to her vying to become the first trans person to win elected office in Orange County.

But based on the unofficial returns Wednesday morning, Wade ended up in second place in her runoff race for her city's District 3 council seat. She received 710 votes, or 41.09% of the ballots counted.

Wade had been the top vote-getter in the three-person race on the November 8 ballot. Yet neither she nor her opponents had garnered more than 50% of the vote in order to win the seat outright. Thus, Wade ended up in the January 31 runoff race against Lisa Landau, who took first place with 1,018 votes, or 58.91% of the current count according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

An update of the vote count is expected Wednesday afternoon. Wade, a divorced mother of two children who works for a county supervisor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Bay Area Reporter's press deadline.

While Wade's gender identity hadn't been much of an issue ahead of the fall election, it became a main talking point among conservative supporters of Landau, a Republican, over the last three months. She had issued a statement last month decrying the transphobic attacks.

Due to the historic nature of her campaign, Wade had received a burst of support over the last week from LGBTQ political groups, with statewide advocacy organization Equality California having staff in town last weekend to help with get out the vote efforts for Wade. Both EQCA and the national LGBTQ Victory Fund had endorsed her council bid.

Meanwhile, Landau faced a number of questions about her candidacy and personal bio, from the ballot designation she used to her professed three decades of experience as an accountant, as reported by the Political Notebook last week. The Democratic Party of Orange County had created a website detailing the various accusations against Landau.

Several complaints were filed with city and county elections officials against Landau, who didn't respond to the B.A.R.'s interview requests to address them. The election took place as scheduled because it was too late to do otherwise, Seal Beach City Clerk Gloria Harper told the B.A.R. in an emailed reply last week.

Emphasizing that she wasn't taking a position on the allegations against Landau, Harper noted "there are remedies in State law to address candidate/elected official eligibility at the appropriate time."

With there being "no provision in state or local law for changing the candidates on a ballot at this stage of the election," Harper had urged voters to cast their ballots in the runoff race by the January 31 deadline to do so.

EQCA welcomes new staff

Following the departure late last year of its former legislative director, EQCA has brought on board Craig Pulsipher to serve in the role as California legislators begin their work for the 2023 legislative session. Pulsipher, a gay man, had been the associate director of government affairs at APLA Health in Los Angeles.

"Honored to represent the organization in Sacramento during such a pivotal moment for LGBTQ+ equality. Let's get to work!" he tweeted last week.

He had worked for the nonprofit for nearly nine years, leading its statewide advocacy efforts on HIV and health care policy, legislation, and budget matters, as well as its political strategy. Over the last two years Pulsipher had worked with a coalition of AIDS advocates and service providers to secure tens of millions of new funding for various programs.

But APLA's CEO had also lambasted lawmakers in Sacramento last year for funding just $38 million out of the $105 million in new funding the coalition of service providers had sought in the 2022-2023 fiscal year to address California's twinned sexually transmitted infections and drug overdose epidemics. With the state projecting a deficit this year, Pulsipher's experience with state finances will come in handy as LGBTQ advocates work to fend off budget cuts in the coming months.

Pulsipher succeeds Tami Martin in his new role. She left to work for gay freshman Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur (D-West Hollywood), EQCA's former executive director, as his legislative director. Also joining EQCA this year is Theresa Carlisle as its director of human resources.

Carlisle had been working as the U.S. people and culture manager for Denmark-based Linkfire Inc., a music industry technology company. While she will be based in Los Angeles, Pulsipher will be based in Sacramento.

"We are thrilled to welcome Theresa and Craig to our leadership team as we continue our mission to achieve full, lived LGBTQ+ equality in California and beyond," stated EQCA Executive Director Tony Hoang. "We've had the pleasure of working with Craig in multiple capacities and we look forward to the wealth of knowledge and experience he will bring as we shape up our legislative package for the year. Theresa brings over two decades of experience in helping foster productive, inclusive, and efficient workplace cultures and will be an invaluable asset to our staff."

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on how Bay Area LGBTQ electeds will be leading in 2023 on transit, budget, and public safety issues.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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