The world is truly changing in Hampton Roads for LGBT Virginians, especially in the city of Norfolk where my good friend and former fellow HRBOR board member, Nicole Carry has been appointed to hold an interim seat on Norfolk City Council. Less than 13 years ago I was fired by a large law firm for being gay - Virginia still has zero employment protections for LGBT citizens - and now Pride Fest is the city's second largest festival, HRBOR has grown by leaps and bounds, and now an LGBT activist has been appointed to Norfolk City Council. Kudos to Nicole!! Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:
Nicole Carry, 46, is believed to be the first Navy veteran to serve on Norfolk’s council in recent history, as well as the first gay council member.The City Council chose a Navy veteran and gay-rights activist Thursday to temporarily fill a council seat in the ward that includes the world’s largest naval base.
She had applied for the seat a month ago but was surprised when she got it after a round of public interviews Thursday afternoon.
“Wow. Awesome!” Carry said when council members called her to tell her she’d beaten out six other people for the post.
Later, she said she was proud of Norfolk for making a progressive choice.
“It wasn’t that long ago I was in the Navy and being witch-hunted,” said Carry, who identifies as lesbian. She served from 1991 to 1997, a time when service members could not be openly gay.
Carry will be sworn in oday and will be on the dais for Tuesday’s regular council meeting. She replaces Andy Protogyrou, who served on the council for six years but had to step down in the middle of a term because he ran unsuccessfully for mayor.
Carry is expected to serve for less than two months and participate in, at most, three meetings. A special election is scheduled for Aug. 23 to let voters choose someone to represent Ward 1 until June 2018. Carry does not plan to run for the seat .
“This would never have happened on the last council,” Smigiel said. He noted that most applicants admitted they could accomplish little in just a few weeks on the council – but not Carry.
An information-technology consultant who has lived in Norfolk for more than 20 years, Carry has advocated for city government to be more innovative in education and technology.
She hopes to get Norfolk schools to partner with Code Virginia, a group that trains teachers on how to instruct students in computer science and coding. And she has been pushing the city for about three years to create an information-technology commission that she says would spur technological innovation.
After publicly interviewing all seven candidates over nearly two hours, the council discussed the choices behind closed doors for a few minutes. They then returned to public session and unanimously appointed Carry, the only woman among the seven.
“She just blew it out of the water,” Mayor Kenny Alexander said, calling her a progressive whose IT and military experience and command of issues clearly put her at the top of the list.
It has been truly amazing to see and be a part of the LGBT community going mainstream in this region even as the "godly folk" slowly are losing their power and influence.