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Gay black man wins mayor’s race

From Palm Springs, Calif., voters chose Ron Oden, a black, gay man to be their new mayor.
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Ron Oden, secure about being both black and gay, got a resounding vote of approval from Palm Springs, Calif., voters when they chose him to lead a city with a 1 percent black population.

With a disco mix of Gloria Gaynor pumping out “I Will Survive” at the Riviera Resort and Racquet Club celebration, Oden yelled to 300 supporters, “Let’s celebrate Palm Springs!”

Oden will become one of the country’s few openly gay politicians beat the two-term Will Kleindienst with 51.3 percent of the vote - a margin of some 840 votes.

An eight-year veteran Democratic City Councilman, Oden scored a decisive victory over an incumbent who had been labeled by Oden supporters as fostering “homophobic” city government policies.

He won by declaring that Palm Springs government should be less “combative” and by saying that he will openly celebrate the city’s diversity.

In a couple of years, they’ll be calling him “One-Term Ron.” Oden has already gone on record as saying he only wishes to serve one-term.

Soon-to-be-One-Term-Ron (if he is to be believed) professed at his campaign stops of being gripped by frustration at his attempts to “change the attitude of city government.”

Indeed, his victory in part was due to a healthy boost of support from the city’s business community, which apparently embraced his call for inclusiveness of all the city’s lifestyles, free of official statements and policies that might be construed as anti-gay.

Oden, 53, the executive director of the Desert Career College vocational school, ran and lost in his race against incumbent Mary Bono in 2000 for the U.S. House of Representatives.