WHEELING, W.Va. — History was made in a Wheeling City Council race on Tuesday when citizens elected Rosemary Ketchum to the Third Ward seat.
Ketchum became the first openly transgender person elected to office in West Virginia, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization based in Washington D.C.
She defeated Peggy Niebergall by 11 votes, 287 (39.1%) to 272 (37.1%). Jerome “Jake” Henry picked up 137 votes (18.6%) in the 3rd Ward seat. Incumbent Melinda Koslik did not seek reelection.
“I’m incredibly excited and grateful. I know this was a close race,” Ketchum told The Wheeling News-Register on Tuesday. She also told the paper that she did not campaign on the fact she is a transgender woman but believes the win “matters a lot.”
She campaigned on addressing homelessness and the opioid crisis, affordable housing and improving infrastructure. She will now work with Mayor Glenn Elliott on those issues, who was reelected on Tuesday.
Ketchum, a 2019 graduate of Wheeling University and resident of Wheeling for more than a decade, will be one of just 27 out trans elected officials in the entire nation.
Ketchum is only one of four people from the LGBTQ+ community as a whole to hold public office in West Virginia, according to the Victory Fund.
HISTORY MADE: @RosemaryKetchum just won a seat on the Wheeling City Council and is now the first out trans person ever elected in West Virginia! She will be one of just 27 out trans elected officials in the entire nation. pic.twitter.com/Ma3aMYpiTQ
— LGBTQ Victory Fund (@VictoryFund) June 10, 2020