updated 11/9/2008 12:27:00 PM ET 2008-11-09T17:27:00

Plenty of politicians reinvent themselves, but few do it quite like Mayor-elect Stu Rasmussen.

Rasmussen has been a fixture in Silverton politics for more than 20 years, and had twice before been mayor of the small city 45 miles south of Portland. Those terms, however, were before his breast implants and before the once-discreet crossdresser started wearing dresses and 3-inch heels in public.

Silverton has made Rasmussen the country's first openly transgender mayor, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that works to help openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people win elected office.

Rasmussen, 60, unseated incumbent mayor Ken Hector, with whom he had long clashed, by 1,988 votes to 1,512.

Campaign dominated by policy issues
Because Rasmussen's appearance was no secret, the campaign was dominated by policy issues.

"I've blackmail-proofed myself," Rasmussen said.

The story of Rasmussen's election was first reported by JustOut, a bimonthly publication for Portland's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

"Stu never sought this recognition out," said JustOut reporter Stephen Marc Beaudoin. "He's interested in doing a great job for the community that he loves. The gender identity thing is just a total backseat thing."

That comes across when Rasmussen speaks in his decidedly masculine voice.

"I am a dude," he said. "I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female."

His longtime live-in girlfriend, Victoria Sage, told The Oregonian newspaper that she and Rasmussen have been an item for almost 35 years.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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