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Meet Indiana’s first transgender elected official

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GREENCASTLE, Ind. (WISH) — Indiana’s first transgender elected official will take her seat in January on the Greencastle City Council, representing Ward 3.

Many may find a place like Greencastle too small to be progressive enough to elect a transgender city councilor, but for the last 15 years, Veronica Pejril said the community has accepted her. They showed that support by heading to the polls.

“This is my first foray into public life, and I’m really excited about that,” she said.

A Democrat running under the campaign message “Being a good neighbor,” Pejril became Indiana’s first transgender elected official. She beat her opponent with nearly 70% of the vote.

“I thought long and hard and thought what this moment might be like,” said Pejril. “And I said, ‘Yeah, our community is ready for this.’”

It’s a bit of a shock for something so big to happen in such a small city. Greencastle, population 10,500, historically has voted conservatively.

Local party leaders encouraged Pejril to throw her name into the race after the incumbent councilor didn’t seek reelection.

Fourteen years ago, she started her transition in Greencastle. Since then, she says she has been presenting her “authentic self.”

“Because of that, I really didn’t have much fear going into this,” Pejril said.

A local craft shop in the center of town became a kind of focal point for the campaign. During the election, rainbow flags and other signs promoting inclusivity were displayed there.

However, Pejril said she didn’t enter the race to become the first transgender elected official. But now that she’s won, the victory could mean big things for people.

“It’s great that this wall has been broken,” she said. “And I would certainly hope that this might help one or two bullied kids who aren’t sure they can move on and be themselves.”

Pejril expected to face some challenges. Despite pushing for community involvement, better housing and salary increases for police and firefighters, she said on the campaign trail she dealt with everything from name-calling to doubt.

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Copyright 2019 John B. Wells