On Tuesday, June 9, Ketchum became the first out transgender person ever to be elected in West Virginia, and when she takes office, she will the fourth LGBTQ elected official in the entire state of West Virginia.
With an endorsement from the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Ketchum won her race for Wheeling City Council.
Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston, Texas and President/ CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement on Wednesday:
“Rosemary has shattered a lavender ceiling in West Virginia and will join the growing number of out trans elected officials serving nationwide. Trans people are severely underrepresented in elected office – with just 26 out trans officials anywhere in the country – so Rosemary’s victory will resonate well beyond her state. We know Rosemary’s race will inspire other trans people from conservative states to consider a run for office in their communities – and then those candidates will inspire others as well. That virtuous cycle is the key to building trans acceptance and political power long-term.”
After getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wheeling Jesuit University, Ketchum worked at the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Greater Wheeling Drop In Center. As associate director of the NAMI center, Ketchum explained to Time Magazine the frustrating experiences she had working with elected officials to agree to policy changes she was backing. It was those experiences that convinced Ketchum to run for Wheeling City Council to be in the room where the decisions are made.
Winning her seat on Wheeling City Council, Ketchum, in a close race, received 39.3% of the votes while one of her opponents, Peggy Nibergall, lost with 37.2% of the vote.
Ketchum took to Twitter to thank her followers for their likes and shares.
— Rosemary Ketchum (@RosemaryKetchum) June 11, 2020
In a video she made for YouTube, Ketchum explained:
“I never really thought there was a space for me in politics. Growing up in poverty gives you a distorted view of what you think is possible. And truthfully, my lived experience had all but ruled out having anything to do with politics before I had the chance to really consider it. But here we are! We won and now we get to work.”
Ketchum appeared on MSNBC on Sunday afternoon to talk about what she plans to accomplish while she is in office.
“We need to provide a specific vision, so we can provide as many mental health resources in the city as possible.” pic.twitter.com/dmhPL6Sz6j
— MSNBC Public Relations (@MSNBCPR) June 13, 2020
Ketchum will begin her role as Wheeling’s Ward 3 representative on July 1.
— Del. Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) June 15, 2020
So honored to have had the chance to talk about LGBTQ+ healthcare, policing, and the serious threats facing our trans women of color with the queen herself @pwcdanica and the best @NBCJoshua ❤️✊🏻⚖️ pic.twitter.com/WhdBV29chI
— Rosemary Ketchum (@RosemaryKetchum) June 15, 2020