AP NEWS

Transgender candidate elected to City Council in Rochester

November 8, 2019
This Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, photo shows Palana Belken, elected to the city council in Rochester, N.H., on Tuesday. Belken is the first openly transgender person to be elected to a city council in New Hampshire. (Kyle Stucker/Foster's Daily Democrat via AP)
This Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, photo shows Palana Belken, elected to the city council in Rochester, N.H., on Tuesday. Belken is the first openly transgender person to be elected to a city council in New Hampshire. (Kyle Stucker/Foster's Daily Democrat via AP)

ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — An ACLU representative has made history as the first openly transgender person to be elected to a city council in New Hampshire.

Seacoastonline.com reports 30-year-old Palana Belken was elected Tuesday in Rochester. She defeated longtime incumbent city councilor and Democratic state rep. Sandra Keans. The vote was 342-300. She was one of three LGBTQ residents elected to the 12-seat City Council.

Belken, the trans justice organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, said she heard a lot of ideas and received a lot of valuable insight from residents over the past several weeks on such issues like the downtown’s revitalization, substance use disorder, and housing affordability as she campaigned.

She said most people “just saw me as a young person looking to get elected.”