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Endorsements continue: Major national LGBTQ organization backs Justus for KC mayor

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the nation’s leading LGTBQ organizations, is endorsing Councilwoman Jolie Justus in the race for Kansas City mayor, Justus and the group announced jointly on Tuesday.

If elected, Justus would be Kansas City’s first openly gay mayor. She faces Councilman Quinton Lucas, 3rd District at-large, in the June 18 general election. The two beat out nine other candidates in a nonpartisan primary election on April 2.

In a statement, HRC’s field director, Marty Rouse, called Justus “an experienced problem solver” who would create greater opportunity for Kansas City.

“With a proven record on LGBTQ equality, Justus will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that Kansas City is an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone. HRC is proud to endorse Jolie Justus’ historic candidacy for mayor, and we look forward to working with her to advance LGBTQ equality.”

Justus said in the statement that she was grateful for HRC’s support.

“Like me , HRC has a proven track record of fighting to ensure equality for everyone in our community and that’s why I’m proud to have their support,” Justus said.

It’s not clear whether HRC’s endorsement will mean more spending on behalf of Justus, who has a productive fundraising operation of her own. In an interview, Rouse said the organization hadn’t determined what the full extent of its involvement would be. But he said HRC would mobilize its members to volunteer and vote.

Justus, also the first openly gay member of the Missouri Senate, championed LGBTQ issues, including the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, or MONA, during her two terms. She is supported by the LGBTQ Victory Fund, LPAC, Promoting Equality for All Missourians and state Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, one of few openly gay members of the Missouri House.

She has also collected endorsements from Kansas City’s outgoing mayor, Sly James, former mayor Kay Barnes, labor unions and other current and former elected officials.

The fight for major Kansas City labor endorsements, however, continues. The Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO has yet to announce an endorsement.

Justus has the support of the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council. A carpenters-affiliated PAC donated more than $90,000 in the primary.

Lucas is backed by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 42, a major player in regional campaigns. The union made its endorsement public last week, saying Lucas has shown he supports the city’s firefighters and public safety.

“As a leader on City Council, he has made the safety of Kansas City families a priority,” the union’s president, Tim Dupin, said in a release. “He has consistently shown the leadership that will be required of our next mayor as we take on big issues over the next four years and work to ensure safety for all.”

The deadline to register to vote is May 22.

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Allison Kite reports on City Hall and local politics for The Star. She joined the paper in February 2018 and covered Midterm election races on both sides of the state line. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in economics and public policy from the University of Kansas.