Apr 5 2010

Sparks2 The last years have been fantastic for LGBT politicos. One would be hard put to think of New York politics without New York City Council President Christine Quinn quickly coming to mind. Then there is the amazing and historic victory of Mayor Annise Parker in Houston. Now in San Francisco, history is on the verge of being made one more time. Theresa Sparks, in the best tradition of Harvey Milk, is a top contender for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

If Sparks becomes one of the highest elected Transgendered people in the world, it is because she achieved it the old fashion way in American politics - she earned it.

As one of the most dynamic presidents of the San Francisco Police Commission ever, she already has left her mark on the city by the bay. Earning the respect and trust of the San Francisco Police Department, she wowed the city and her fellow commissioners. San Francisco Online wrote about her stint on the commission:

Sparks’ fellow commissioners became instant admirers. “I look at that $400 million budget and, whew, it’s complicated,” attorney Petra DeJesus says. “But Theresa has some skills she brings to the table. She just cuts through that budget.” She also cut through stereotypes: Anyone who assumed that a transgender commissioner would be somewhere to the left of Che Guevara was in for a shock. In a city where the knee-jerk progressive move is to slash police funding to pay for social services, Sparks campaigned for more cops, more training—even more tasers. “She organized us to go to all the budget meetings to advocate,” DeJesus says. “We said, ‘What are we going to ask for, academy classes or technology?’ And Theresa said, ‘We need to get both.’” As a result, an astounding 35 percent of the force has been hired in the past five years—despite two budget-busting economic downturns. The police were more surprised than anyone else, as one officer tellingly admitted. “We were laughing, and I asked him what he’d expected,” Sparks says. “And he said, ‘Well, my buddy and I, we thought you would come in and try to emasculate us.’ Then he turned bright red and said, ‘That’s the wrong word.’ But I think that may be exactly the right word.”

Sparks Theresa Sparks is exactly the kind of candidate we all should be supporting. She is breaking down barriers not by being a token but by her competence, talents and charm. Please support her candidacy by simply clicking here.

In that wonderful story in the San Francisco Online article by Nathaniel Johnson (with photographs on this page by Rod McLean), he sums up the impact of this race:

When I asked Veronese, who has worked as a reserve police officer in the city, what made him believe that people—including the SFPD—could accept a transgender leader, he chuckled. “Let me tell you a story,” he said. Two years ago, he happened to be at a dinner with several top-ranking generals. He didn’t want to tell me their names, but he said they’d helped to officiate the first Gulf War, and one of them had been among the top generals in the Iraq War. “For the first half of the dinner, they wouldn’t talk to me,” he said. “I finally asked if there was a problem, and one of them said, ‘We strongly disagree with your decision that a transgender should lead the Police Commission. It sends the wrong message.’ And I said, ‘What do you know about Theresa Sparks?’ ‘Well, she’s transgender, and it just sends the wrong message.’ And I asked them, ‘Did you know she served during the Vietnam War? Did you know she has a son serving in the Middle East? What about that sends the wrong message?’ That unplugged their ears.”