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Rosemary Ketchum becomes West Virginia's first openly transgender elected official

Rosemary Ketchum on Wednesday was elected as the Third Ward representative of West Virginia's Wheeling City Council. Ketchum, a transgender woman, is the first openly transgender person to win an election in the state.

Ketchum's campaign focused on issues ranging from opioid addiction to affordable housing. She also focused on improving infrastructure, providing better resources to law enforcement, helping small businesses flourish and transforming local clean energy consumption and waste management.

On Wednesday, Ketchum tweeted the news.

Ketchum told CBS News that "running for office was never in the plan," but that she has "always believed when you see something wrong you do what you can to fix it." 

"I hope that my race can inspire other folks to run for office. I'd tell anyone thinking about running for office - do it!" she said. "Rather than convincing our elected officials we probably ought to replace them."

In an Instagram post, Ketchum said she is "grateful to everyone who has joined me for this incredible campaign and donated their time, energy, effort, and money."

"It truly means the world," she said.

Ketchum is the associate director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Wheeling and is a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia. 

"We can no longer afford to play business as usual," she says on her campaign website. "The job of an elected official is more than a shiny name plate or a news headline. It is the work of service and a commitment to reflecting the values of your community in the actions of your leadership."

LGBTQ Victory Fund, an organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ people get elected to political office, said that Ketchum "has shattered a lavender ceiling in West Virginia." The organization said when Ketchum takes office, she will be just the fourth out LGBTQ elected official in the state.

"Trans people are severely underrepresented in elected office – with just 26 out trans officials anywhere in the country – so Rosemary's victory will resonate well beyond her state. We know Rosemary's race will inspire other trans people from conservative states to consider a run for office in their communities – and then those candidates will inspire others as well," LGBTQ Victory Fund said. "That virtuous cycle is the key to building trans acceptance and political power long-term."

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