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Christy Holstege to be Palm Springs 1st female, bisexual mayor

Christy Holstege Palm Springs Mayor

Palm Springs City Councilwoman Christy Holstege will make history December 10 when she is sworn in for a second term — Holstege will be the city’s first female mayor and the city’s first bisexual mayor. Photo: Christy Holstege campaign

PALM SPRINGS — Palm Springs City Councilwoman Christy Holstege will make history December 10 when she is sworn in for a second term — Holstege will be the city’s first female mayor and the city’s first bisexual mayor.

The mayor of Palm Springs, largely a ceremonial position, rotates every year among the council members. Holstege, 34, is mayor pro tem, which precedes being mayor.

Holstege, who received more than 50% of the vote in her district, according to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters, told the Desert Sun that she’s proud to represent “new voices that haven’t really been heard at City Hall.”

Holstege, an attorney focusing on social justice issues, was elected to the council in 2017, giving Palm Springs an entirely LGBTQ city council.

Lisa Middleton, who identifies as transgender, also was elected to the council in 2017. Middleton ran unopposed in her district and was re-elected.

Councilmembers will be installed for their new terms on December 10.

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Holstege encountered some biphobia during the campaign, which she also faced in 2017.

A staff member for Mike McCulloch, who came in a distant second place in the election, questioned whether Holstege was really part of the LGBTQ community because she is married to husband Adam Gilbert, and has a 4-week-old son.

Some online commenters made sexist statements, questioning if a new mother could fulfill her council duties.

“It’s sad and distressing that people are resorting to these campaign tactics in our city,” Holstege wrote in an October Facebook post. “I worry about how this impacts people watching who may want to run for office in the future. Discrimination hurts our entire community, publicly silences underrepresented voices, and discourages active political participation by women, people of color, and LGBTQ people (that’s the point of it).”

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Holstege added, “There is a reason we don’t have equal representation of women in office, a reason why we’ve never had a female mayor in 83 years, why we don’t have many pregnant/mothers in elected office, why there are so few openly bi elected officials across the country, and why women and LGBTQ candidates are routinely discriminated against and underrepresented.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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