Jackie Biskupski just made history by being elected as Salt Lake City’s first openly gay mayor.
According to Desert News, the Salt Lake City Council confirmed the election results on Tuesday, solidifying her win against two-term incumbent Mayor Ralph Becker.
“Today is not just about making history,” Biskupski said, speaking at the Salt Lake City-County Building. “It is about effecting change for the sake of so many people in this community who felt like they had not been heard. We will move forward today with ears wide open, and there is no question you will be heard.”
On Election Day, Becker was still following behind Biskupski by 1,450 votes. However, he held on to hope that he could be re-elected because there were still 5,000 ballots that would be read on Tuesday. When the results were finally announced, it was revealed that Biskupski had defeated Becker by 1,194 votes (51.55 percent to 48.45 percent). More than 38,000 votes were cast during the election, with Salt Lake City’s voter turnout to be 54.6 percent, the highest in the city’s history.
When the results were read, Biskupski’s supporters loudly cheered. Becker, on the other hand, showed little emotion, but he later congratulated Jackie and told her he would help make her transition into office as smooth as possible.
“Serving as mayor of Salt Lake City has been the richest working experience of my life,” Becker told reporters. “It has been an unparalleled privilege and honor to serve in this role for eight years.”
“I remain committed to this city and our future. I will work with Mayor-elect Biskupski to assist in a smooth transition,” he said, before thanking his family for their support during his campaign.
“A way to measure success in a job is to look at whether the place you’re leaving behind is better off than when you started. I leave this job with a wonderful feeling of success,” Becker said. “Now it’s time for us to move on and support (Biskupski) and her administration so that we can have an evermore successful Salt Lake City.”
After all of the congratulatory hugs and cheers, Biskupski, who became Utah’s first openly gay lawmaker in 1998, spoke again, talking about her plans for when she takes office on January 4.
“Today our work begins, and we begin with thanks. I am grateful to Mayor Becker for his years of service and leadership…. For the last 11 months we have been competitors, but today we are on the same side committing to the best interest of our city, our residents and the people of Utah.
“We have a lot of work to do between now and Jan. 4 to make sure that the transition happens in a very smooth fashion. We absolutely want every public employee to understand and feel that they will be respected through this entire process.”
Jackie Biskupski being elected as the first openly gay mayor of Salt Lake City comes on the heels of recent setbacks for the LGBT community in Utah. Just last week, a judge ordered the removal of a foster child from a lesbian couple and placed with a heterosexual couple. The reason, the judge said, was for the child’s own well-being, according to the Guardian. The decision was eventually reversed, and the judge took himself off of the case.
Prior to the foster child incident, the Salt Lake City-based Mormon church issued a set of new rules that targeted gay parents and their children. According to the Guardian, “the new policy bans baptisms until the children of gay parents turn 18 and disavow same-sex relationships.” Biskupski said she hopes to meet with the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss their new rules.
Jackie Biskupski celebrated her victory Tuesday night at the Utah Pride Center. When she arrived, there were already more than 100 people there to show their support for the mayor-elect.
[Photo by Rick Bowmer/Associated Press]