Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More on the Sheriff's Race

Sgt. Tina Taviano, Allen County Sheriff's Dept.

After reporting that, contrary to what Tracy Warner may have thought, Brad Kohrman won't be running for sheriff in 2006, FWMN readers did a little reporting of their own, most of it on Tina Taviano.

Taviano, for those not in-the-know, is openly gay, which is clear after reading a profile on Taviano on the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute's website. (The profile appears to indicate that Taviano running for sheriff -- as a Democrat -- is a foregone conclusion.)

Tina Taviano (D) is a first-time candidate running for Sheriff of Allen County, Indiana. By far the most qualified candidate in the race, Taviano is currently the Director of Training for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. She holds a master's degree in public affairs administration, carries the rank of sergeant, and has been a public servant (in both the police and fire departments) for more than 24 years. In addition to potentially being the first LGBT sheriff in Indiana, she was also the first woman in Allen County to hold the position of District Fire Chief in a volunteer township department. Tina’s accomplishments are not restricted to the professional field; she has lectured on domestic violence issues at regional and state-level conferences, sat on a mayoral commission on domestic violence response, and currently serves on the board of Erin’s House for Grieving Children. Tina is strongly supported by the local Democratic Party.

Tina is a recent graduate of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute’s Campaign & Candidate Training. Both she and her partner Cheryl attended, which will prove to be a great asset to her campaign. While a Democrat has not been elected Sheriff of Allen County since 1938, the Democratic Party has never had a candidate quite like Tina, a candidate that is organized, qualified, and motivated to make a significant impact in the Sheriff’s office.

Tina is committed to making positive changes in Allen County. A significant part of her plan for the county focuses on streamlining city and county services to end duplication and waste while ensuring that all Allen County residents have equal access to quality services. Discussions on this issue have often been contentious, but Tina’s energy and common-sense approach make it likely that she will create a solution amenable to all. Tina says that, “it takes a willingness to come to the table, keeping our mission in mind… [and] working in good faith for the best outcome”. It is in this spirit of compromise while maintaining one’s values that Tina moves forward in her race for sheriff.

Like fellow Victory Fund endorsee Lupe Valdez, whom she counts as an inspiration, Tina is poised to become the first LGBT official in her area. It is vital that we support Tina as she campaigns to become the first openly-gay elected official in Indiana.

Taviano's candidacy raises some interesting (and important) questions, the first being whether an openly gay candidate can win an election in what is very a conservative area.

And forget about Taviano's sexual orientation for a moment -- would the large percentage of men working in the sheriff's department submit to the authority of a female sheriff...and should the answer to that question make a difference to the voters?

Whether it ends up being Taviano or not, the Democratic nominee is going to face an uphill battle in a county where the voters seem to have forgotten that they're allowed to vote for candidates that aren't Republicans...

NOTE: The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute is an organization whose aim is to get openly gay candidates elected; Taviano attended one of their seminars in June and left this comment on their website:

This training program was exceptional. The staff was well prepared and very helpful. The information is priceless for anyone considering running for office. The only way we can achieve our goals of having openly gay/lesbian elected officials is to be educated and organized in our efforts. Thanks Victory Fund, I know this will make a difference in my campaign.

Posted by: Tina M. Taviano @ 9:30:43 am

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