Republican Cory Jobe, 37, was elected alderman of Ward 6 in Springfield, Ill., April 5, becoming the city's first openly gay alderman.
Many Republicans, such as former chairman of the Republican National Committee Ken Mehlman and former congressman Mark Foley, have caused a media frenzy when they finally come out publicly. However, Jobe's win proves that a person can be gay and Republican and still get elected to office.
"Pro-choice, pro-gay Republicans can get elected in this state," Jobe said.
Jobe was the only candidate on the ballot, but ran against two write-in campaigns from Republican Cameron Counts and Democrat Kent DeLay, the latter who is also openly gay.
Jobe said he "grew up in a more conservative family" in southeastern Robinson, Ill., and credited his upbringing for many of his right-leaning views on fiscal issues and government involvement.
"I think the government should stay out of our lives," he said.
Jobe said that his views on social issues, however, lean more to the left. He is pro-choice and "obviously pro-gay," and doesn't think that conflicts with being a Republican.
"I'm the kind of guy who wants to bring people together," Jobe said, pointing out that all kinds of people voted for him in the April 5 election, including Republicans, Democrats and Independents. He was also backed by the Republican party and "endorsed by every union."
Jobe described Ward 6 as a middle-income residential neighborhood, covering parts of the inner city, downtown and older historic homes. He said residents there are concerned about infrastructure, the city budget, closing commercial corridors and a rising crime rate.
Jobe, who is president of the MacArthur Boulevard Business Association, said voters already knew his name because of his volunteer work there. He still "wanted to know my voters," and went door to door talking with them.
"People are gonna know where they stand with me," he said.
Jobe worked as director of the economic development office for LGBT-friendly Republican Judy Baar Topinka when she served as Illinois state treasurer. She is now state comptroller and he works for her again as her deputy chief of staff.
"She is really my political mentor," Jobe said. He learned from her "ability to cross party lines and work with constituents to get things done."
Jobe said this ability to compromise is important in reaching all of his new constituents.
"I vote for a person instead of a party," he said. In Ward 6 in Springfield, the voters seem to feel the same way.