Openly Gay Candidate Announces Council Run
Christopher Hayes, the only openly gay candidate vying for City Council this year, officially launched his campaign at Tavern on Camac last night. Addressing a room full of supporters, the Lancaster County-born Hayes discussed his platform and how he hopes to create unity in local government.
Active in the local gay community for many years, Hayes – a Democrat – has volunteered for many LGBT organizations, including the Sapphire Fund, Gay Bingo and the AIDS Walk. He’s no stranger to public office either. While attending college, Hayes ran and was elected to the school board in his hometown. He was the first and youngest African-American to have ever been elected to the post in the majority Republican community.
As he kicks off his campaign this week, Hayes sat down with G Philly to discuss his political aspirations, as well as why having an openly gay member of City Council would be a significant step for Philly’s LGBT voters.
What inspired your run for City Council, Christopher?
I am running for council to improve the representation on City Council, improve the very “idea” of Philadelphia and bring the culture of Philadelphia to everyone. I plan to build upon its deep history and many of the Philly “feel goods.” Look around and you will understand what I am talking about. It’s the pride that I feel – and many Philadelphians have always felt all their lives about this city.
You made your official announcement at Tavern on Camac in the heart of the Gayborhood last night. Why is this significant to your campaign?
I am making the announcement at Tavern because I believe it’s a mainstay of the LGBT community. This is a place where all people can feel welcome, whether you are LGBT or not. It’s an atmosphere where anyone can stop in and grab some good food or a drink. I think having someone on council who is diverse and open to new ideas is most important.
Philadelphia has been somewhat progressive in electing openly gay judges and the Mayor’s Office even appointed an LGBT representative in the city. How important is it for the gay community that an openly gay council person is elected this year?
We have inspiring role models with our openly gay judges, but our judges are not the lawmakers – they enforce the law. I would like to be a role model for our young people in the city.
What are some of the issues that are most on your mind right now as a candidate?
I would like to see the leaders of our LGBT community work better together as a whole. This does not necessarily mean we all have to agree on everything, but we can respect the ideas of others and make sure that we are united – and not just in times when something goes wrong. I would also like to see more small businesses open, prosper and thrive – not just in the LGBT community, but all over the city.
What experience do you bring to the table?
Well, I guess politics has always been a passion of mine. When I was younger, I went to a high school where I was one of four or five African-American students in the whole school, including my brother and sister. I was elected to be class president in 10th and 11th grades. While in college, I ran for school board and was elected – being the youngest and first African-American elected. I have also worked for three years with a State Rep’s office in Center City.
Where do you live in the city?
I have had the experience of living in the Northeast near Cottman and Torresdale avenues, respectively. But now live very close to the Community College on Spring Garden Street.
What are some of your favorite things about this town?
There are so many great things that I love here in Philadelphia. We have so many amazing restaurants here with so many different flavors and cuisines. I think my favorite thing to do is to is on a warm night take a walk on Market Street where there are so many different historical sights to see.
What would you like voters to understand about your political aspirations?
My political aspirations have always been to help make government better. I want to continue to improve its transparency, honesty and accountability. I want to make myself, when elected, accessible to the citizens of Philadelphia.
What are your hopes for the city?
My hope for the City of Philadelphia is to be elected to City Council. Then, I’d like to work on the relationship between the different city entities for a better working government. This means taking a hard look at our educational system and in what ways we can improve it. But we must also look at the school culture and safety for all children.
Fill in the Blank: When elected to city council…
I will streamline city government. It’s time to start believing in Philadelphia again.