Thursday, February 5, 2015

Trans Faces #9: Lisa Larson, South Carolina's First Transgender Mayoral Candidate?

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

What comes to mind when you think of the Bible Belt? Snake handlers? Cotton fields? Racism and sexism? Anti-abortionists? Republicans? A place where you may find people not even knowing what transgender is? You wouldn't be that far off from the truth. True, for decades the south has had that reputation as an ignorant, unwilling to change rebel region, but the Yankees are coming.

 The fastest growing areas in America are in the south. South Carolina in particular now ranks as the fastest growing economy on the east coast. Coastal South Carolina, which includes Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Hilton Head are among the fastest growing areas in S.C. They also have the largest TBLG communities.

With this in mind, one now has the ingredients to shake this backyard fishfry up a bit and that is what Lisa Larson of Myrtle Beach has planned. Lisa has politics in her blood. Her grandfather W. E. Cameron was Mayor of the town from 1954-66. She's worked as a journalist, a comedian, and now has her eyes set to be the first Transgender Mayor of Myrtle Beach; which would also make her the first in the south east. The only other Transgender Mayor known is Stu Rasmussen of Silverton, Oregon (pop. 9.6tho), who has just recently ended her six year term as Mayor.

Lisa Larson is known as comedic, eccentric, outspoken and she'd like for you to know her as the next potential Mayor. For now, let's get to know our newest sister ready to make headlines.



1. TMP:  You've recently announce you will file in June to run for Mayor of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  A city that is the center of SC's fourth, largest metropolitan area consistently ranks in the top percent of unemployment during winter months, and has seen a rise in crime. Why run now?

                 Lisa Larson: Yes actually, our filing date is not until June, but I will not wait until then to start doing a job which should have been done many years ago. A change must come or our future will never be solidified. We are the most diverse melting pot in South Carolina. More different languages are spoken in our Horry County School System than any other county school system in our state. With our high unemployment and rising population it does not take a genius to understand why we also see a rise in crime. Sunday's weather on the Grand Strand was very nice for the winter. 60 degrees and mostly sunny skies brought many people out, and I rode my bicycle on Ocean Blvd. I saw more prostitutes than automobiles. I saw homeless people on every street corner. And with that said it is easy to understand why we have an increase in crime...people have grown accustomed to eating and desire a safe warm place to sleep.

2. TMP: The coast of South Carolina continuously ranks in the top for population growth in America. Given the typical seasonal employment in Myrtle Beach and ever increasing population, what are your plans to direct that growth and promote new industry?

L.L.: Industry must be courted. Those businesses must have a reason to come to Myrtle Beach. You just gave the best one. Because our population is growing so fast, and with that job demand increases. We have to be an interesting possibility for an industrial destination. It takes a relatively closed mind to even fathom the possibility that we are simply a tourist town. Too many people now live here year round.

3. TMP: So many have fallen through the cracks of employment in Myrtle Beach. Many service industry job workers often are left to find housing in the many hotels there. Those are the lucky ones; many are homeless. How will your campaign handle that growing problem in Myrtle Beach?

L.L.:  First, I desire to organize a public forum to discuss with our citizens ideas to assist our homeless. There is only one homeless shelter here, and you are now charged to stay as there aren't enough beds as opposed to people needing a place to lay their heads. Many of our church leaders and various foundations could assist us but I believe job availability should be priority number 1. Jobs, equal housing and feeding your families.

4. TMP: Due to the violence that erupted from black biker memorial day weekend, current Mayor John Rhodes and city council offended some of the 13% of African Americans living there by not being as tactful as he possibly could. Throughout the Myrtle Beach area there seems to be a lack of comradery among the large diverse populations due to those statements. How do you plan to mend wounds, celebrate diversity, and yet keep the image of Myrtle Beach safe?

L.L.:  First and foremost, our governor led that offensive. The problems brought on that were blamed on that rally had nothing to do with the citizens from that area. I believed then, and still believe, that onslaught was a political ploy to give our city administrators more of a grip on a situation that was never out of control to begin with. The Bike Weeks are major money makers for our area and again it is easier for our city to make money if they control the areas that are being visited during this week. We have a very large hospitality group that must figure into the process of profit or someone is going to have the red licked off their candy apple. They have run this town since it's inception and if their feelings are hurt they get angry. I refuse to be bedfellows with them. I will not work for them. I will be a mayor for my citizens and I'm sure they're going to love me! I could care less...They won't be paying my salary and I will not allow them to influence me. Every citizen is equal as your head administrator. I represent no political party, only my people, so I succumb to no pressure of a political wheel or format. 

5. TMP: The Coastal areas of South Carolina enjoy a larger population of LGBT persons than the rest of the state. How do you feel this will benefit your campaign and what are the issues of LGBT people you intend to address?

L.L.:  Equality...every person who is a citizen of this city has a voice in educational, occupational, and marital rights, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. I will uphold the rights of every one of our citizens.

6.  TMP: During the city council's meeting June 2014, Myrtle Beach City Council approved an amendment to an existing human rights ordinance without objections. The update extends the 1990 resolution creating the City of Myrtle Beach’s Human Rights Commission to include persons of all “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The updated ordinance condemns any discrimination in "housing, employment, city services and programs, law enforcement, education and public accommodations." As it's potentially first Transgender Mayor, how will you uphold this amendment when it comes to law enforcement using correct pronouns of transgender individuals, anti-bullying in schools, and providing unisex or safe zone restrooms?

L.L.: Education is the key to understanding each other and learning to live as we individually have the rights within the law. In our schools I would like to see more responsibility given to the students with proven leadership qualities. Those students are our future, and I have found giving responsibilities motivates young people to become leaders. I would select an individual to become an educator in our law enforcement system to teach proper referencing in gender conformity. And those educational leaders would need to be educated as well. This is now 2015...2016 will bring even more changes so educating everyone will be a necessity in this administration. Now is the time to act. I will make sure that everyone is treated with equal rights.

7. TMP: TBGL political candidates, as well as other minority groups, often balance being a champion for their groups, yet make issues the focal point. In such a republican area, how does your campaign plan on keeping the focus on the issues and not on your gender?

L.L.: I am simply a woman, a female, and have felt as such my entire life and desire to be seen only as such. This race has nothing to do with gender or sexual orientation. The issue is an increasing population with a lack of jobs, only that.


8.  TMP:  What are some of the core principles and issues your campaign will run on and why?

L.L.:   Industry, winter jobs....the issue is a simple one. Over the next 21 months I will work tirelessly to extend the olive branch to industrial companies and increase employment in our winter months without disrupting our bread and butter. Tourism.

9.  TMP:  What are your goals and how do you see the city of Myrtle Beach in the years to come?

L.L.:  I will always see this city as a tourist Mecca. I believe winter growth will directly correlate with our summer growth. All cities that I have ever been in that relied on tourism had to learn to survive on winter jobs as well, so this is not a new dilemma. Similar problems have arisen in Daytona Beach, Florida and I desire to meet with those city leaders to discuss situations and solutions. Education is going to be key in this journey, but education is the only thing that will solve these issues and now is the time to start. 

10. TMP:   I like to ask, if you could tell the world something about Lisa Larson and you knew everyone would listen, what would you like them to know about you?

L.L.: That I have no doubt that I am the best candidate for this position. I am open minded, have empathy for my fellow citizens, and understand their plight and suffering. This election is not about me. This election is about you! and the opportunities we all deserve in our lives. To move forward into 2016 with hope and vision for the future. I have the heart. I have the intelligence, and I have the intestinal fortitude to roll up my sleeves and get the job done! But, it will take every citizen's cooperation to move our city into a new place we have never been before, My grandfather, W. E. (pop) Cameron, who was this city's mayor from 1954-1966 envisioned a place that was diverse enough to withstand the situations we are dealing with today. He told me, political parties are the root of politics today, that's why I have no desire to be affiliated with one. I have only the format of growing into the 21st Century. He said, "In Summer you can't cross Ocean Blvd. the traffic's so thick, but you could pitch a tent on that same street in the dead of winter and never get hit by a car"....I intend, as this city's next administrator to change that belief!

 
 
 
It will be a pleasure for TMP to keep an eye on this future campaign. I plan on keeping our readers up to date as soon as the filing is complete. We urge support because in the Bible Belt, our sis will need her trans family and allies alike. In a state that is changing, it is certainly time to put some trans 101 on the dinner tables of Carolina and Larson may just do that.
 
 
 




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