LGBTQs are changing the world in politics in the Garden State

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New Jersey rainboiw colored map

A look at some of the LGBTQ winners in New Jersey in November

Don Guardian
Former Atlantic City Republican mayor Don Guardian.

Winning LGBTQ candidates in the Garden State always includes surprises. Many in the Garden State have been voting their issues rather than strictly along lines that are red or blue. In fact, much of New Jersey is purple—fiscally conservative while being socially progressive. And what a crop of LGBTQ candidates we had this year!

Following are some of the candidates who won in alphabetical order.

Don Guardian is a veteran do-gooder who has been working for a long time to make Atlantic City better. He headed up the Special Improvement District in Atlantic City from the late 90s into the 2010s and was so popular that when he ran for Mayor, he won!

Guardian was the first GOP Mayor in Atlantic City in more than three decades. That’s right, he’s a Republican. He reminded the residents of Atlantic City’s glory days and worked to bring AC into another Renaissance. He loves the beach, and he ties a mean bow-tie. If you think he’s all show and no go, just ask the voters in Toms River who saw his progress in Atlantic City and selected him to become their business administrator. He will be the first openly-gay Republican to serve in the New Jersey State Assembly, and currently the only one.

Andrew Nowick has never run for political office before, until now. Lambertville, NJ is a town known and loved by many of us for its antiquarian charm and the majesty and drama of its vistas of the Delaware River.

Nowick moved to Lambertville 10 years ago with his husband Paul and their three sons. Nowick was raising his family and getting involved with the community and what better way to show your love to an entire town than helping it become even better. When he won in the primary, he said “We ran on a platform of openness and inclusivity, with the clear goal of bringing our community together… I will continue to knock on doors and hold small group meetings to better understand the diverse views of our residents.”

Ed Potosnak is the newest member of the Franklin Township Council. His public and private lives are both committed to keeping the Garden State green. Conservation is his day-job. Serving as the Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters (read that twice, Conservation….) he is no stranger to public service.

Potosnak was the first openly gay Board Member of the Franklin Township Board of Education, and later became the Board President. Accustomed to raising his voice in song—after all he is a member of the Rutgers Glee Club Alumni Advisory Committee—Potosnak also knows how to raise his voice when it counts. He is a native who loves what the outdoors has to offer and he is committed to making sure all residents can enjoy the fishing, swimming, and boating he did as a child. Potosnak received the prestigious Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship after 10 years as a chemistry teacher. He went to Capitol Hill to create educational paths to keep America green as well as his home. Potosnak also chairs the New Jersey Keep it Green Coalation and works with the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed as the New Jersey Lead. He serves on the board of Sustainable New Jersey.

Jennifer Sciortino is Bordentown’s first ever out and proud LGBTQ City Commissioner and she is no stranger to making positive change. She has worked with elected officials in the statehouse in New Jersey for almost 25 years and her experience is about helping people understand one another. This skill set will be very useful in the next four years of her term as a City Commissioner, and only the third female-identified person in more than a century since the board became active.

A lifetime community organizer, she works with Bordentown’s animal rescue, serves on the Bordentown City Parks Committee, and Communications Director for the NJ Treasury Department. She has served on the advisory board for one of New Jersey’s most active activist groups, Garden State Equality.

Scortino knows how government works, and understands people as well. The best way to make people’s lives better, every single day, is to make sure they know how government works and how it may benefit everyone, rather than the select few who are in the know. Knowledge is power and sharing knowledge, assuring communication, and hearing every voice is how Scortino plans to leverage the resources Bordentown has to assure success for all people and businesses.

Kate Triggiano is determined to keep making Red Bank even better. It was only three years ago, in 2018, when she led the way to major positive environmental change. Triggiano sought to make changes like ordinances around balloon release, banning plastic bags, and limiting invasive species like the bamboo and other non-native plants.

Progress has been made toward longer-range initiatives like the ordinance to reach 100% clean renewable energy by 2030. You might think that’s a daunting task, but Triggiano is up to the challenge. If you think Medicare for All is a revolutionary idea, she does too! She introduced the first resolution in the state and her colleagues were with her 100%. During her very first term, communication and bringing communities together was a mission—Red Bank Pride in the Park and the volunteer translator/interpreter program in the Garden State to create bridges with the Police. Triggiano is also the current Public Safety chair, no mean fit in this Pandemic age.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Are you inspired by these winners? So are we! The challenge is to find those making the changes and help them do more of the same. Are you ready? Me too! Thanks for Queering the Vote!