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IDAHO UPDATE: Transwoman candidate for mayor of Nampa
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IDAHO UPDATE: Transwoman candidate for mayor of Nampa

by James Whitely - SGN Contributing Writer

Melissa Sue Robinson, a Transwoman, recently announced her campaign for mayor of the predominantly Republican city of Nampa, Idaho, in the November 2009 General Election. Robinson, 58, formerly known as Charles Staelens Jr., legally changed her name and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1998.

Robinson, who was married for 17 years and is the former president of a construction company, still lives with her ex-wife, who serves as her campaign treasurer. The couple moved to Nampa from Seattle last winter.

Some residents of Nampa, where a Democrat hasn't held an elected seat in local government in more than a decade, suspect that Robinson has no chance - not because she is Transgender, specifically, but because Senator John McCain received roughly 62% of the vote in Idaho during the presidential election last year. Still, she hopes that her gender will not be used against her.

But Robinson doesn't quite consider herself a Democrat on all the issues. In fact, she ran for city council as a Republican in Lansing, Michigan in 2004. On her website, Robinson wants to present herself as non-partisan: "I ran as a Democrat in Michigan and as a Republican Precinct Delegate," she writes. Robinson has supported both George H.W. Bush and John Kerry in the past.

Also on her website, Robinson addresses the citizens of Nampa, saying, "I want you to know that while the mayoral race is non-partisan & I am for you. When it comes to business, I lean towards the Republican Party ideals and lean towards the Democratic Party on equality issues. & While I am a Christian & if you are of any other faith or have none at all, helping you, the Citizens of Nampa, is first and foremost, although the Lord will help me do that."

Robinson says that if she's elected, she'll bring transparency to city hall by televising council meetings. Robinson also claims that with her business experience, she can bring new employers to Nampa. She plans to enact an anti-discrimination and hate crimes ordinance and create a more visible police department. She sets her hopes high in wanting Nampa to "become another Austin, Texas, or Gainesville, Florida, which are university towns." She also plans to push for the building of a light rail.

In a statement on her website, Robinson says, "Most of all, I believe in God, Nampa and its Citizens. & I promise that as your mayor I will not try to push anything that you do not want. My main agenda will be jobs and transportation, in that order."

More information can be found on her campaign website at www.equalityidaho.org.

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