Christine Hallquist made history Tuesday night when she captured the Democratic nomination for governor in Vermont, making her the first openly transgender candidate to get a major-party gubernatorial nod in US history.
Here’s five things you should know about the pioneering hopeful for Vermont’s corner office.
Hallquist joined the Vermont Electrical Cooperative in 1998 as an engineering and technology consultant before climbing the ladder to become the utility’s chief executive in 2005, according to her campaign website.
The company was in poor fiscal shape when she took the reins, but she “worked with VEC’s 107 employees to not only rebuild the Coop’s finances, but also to transform it into a national leader on using renewable sources of electricity production to combat climate change,” the site says.
Hallquist has sat on a number of local boards in her community.
“She has served as Hyde Park Town Meeting Day Moderator for the past five years, served twelve years on the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation Board, chaired the Sterling Area Services Mental Health Board, and served on the Hyde Park School Board,” her site says. “She is a member of United Community Church in Morrisville.”
Hallquist came out as transgender while collaborating with her son on a film project about her climate change advocacy entitled “Denial.”
“While in the process of filming Denial in 2015, Christine made the decision, after years of holding it inside, to come out as her true self, a transgender woman, becoming the first business leader in the country to transition while in office,” the campaign site says.
Hallquist has “three wonderful children and two grandchildren,” her site says. “Working to ensure that Vermont remains the special, inclusive and progressive place that it has always been, not only for her children and grandchildren, but also for future generations of Vermonters, is what motivates Christine to seek the honor and opportunity to serve the people of Vermont as its next governor.”
Vermont may be predominantly rural, but Hallquist’s candidacy has captured the attention of the LGBT community in Hollywood, including legendary Star Trek actor George Takei.
“Congratulations to Christine Hallquist, the first transgender woman to be nominated by a major political party as a candidate for the governor’s office,” Takei tweeted on Tuesday night. “An historic day.”
Zeke Smith,a reality television icon and vocal transgender activist, was also pleased with the primary results. “With endless fight and heart and hope, you can break boundaries, smash ceilings, and achieve what others deemed impossible,” Smith tweeted Tuesday night. “Thank you for teaching us this essential lesson, @Christinehinvt. Let’s get you to the State House!!”