Monday, November 03, 2014

Poz Mag: Positive Politics With Heywood & Petrelis
By Todd Swindell and Michael Petrelis

There are two openly HIV positive candidates on the ballot in America this November according to an excellent story by Casey Halter at the Poz magazine web site last week, (

Todd Heywood is vying for seat on the Community College Board of Lansing, Michigan, and Petrelis is running for District 8 Supervisor in San Francisco.

Halter reports that there currently are very few two self-identified positive political leaders including John D'Amico who is the mayor of West Hollywood and New York City Councilmember Corey Johnson. We could use a few more poz politicians.

We're especially pleased Halter quoted us about races here in which there is just a single person, usually the incumbent, on the ballot. This year, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Assessor Carmen Chu and District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang have no competition and that is very unhealthy for San Francisco democracy.

Here are excerpts from the Poz piece:

"Like [longtime advocate and person living with AIDS Sean] Strub, Petrelis is running in protest. 'In the past few years, there have been too many races [in San Francisco] where there was only one candidate. There were no serious challengers to incumbents.' The former ACT UP member describes himself as the 'underdog' in the District 8 race. [...]

“I say I’ve already ‘won’ in the sense that, for the past 10 or 11 months, I have engaged with voters as a person living with AIDS,' Petrelis says. 'I’ve engaged with many other HIV-positive people in San Francisco and a number of people who are HIV negative and certainly concerned about AIDS. It’s really been a fulfilling endeavor.' [...]

"For Petrelis, being HIV positive is an asset in his race for supervisor. 'One benefit, if I were to be elected, would be that I know how to follow the money through the AIDS groups,' he says. He has a long record of pushing AIDS service organizations to release their federal tax returns to increase financial transparency.

"We’ve been throwing so many millions of dollars at AIDS in San Francisco, but I don’t think we’ve asked the question: Has the money been effectively used?” [...]

"In addition to delivering on policy goals that support people living with the virus, Heywood, Petrelis and Strub believe that getting the HIV/AIDS community involved in politics also helps combat stigma and discrimination.[...] Whatever your politics, remember to vote."

Thank you, Casey Halter, and Poz magazine for this write up!

Here's a photo of Petrelis with his good friend Dean Oullette at a recent City Hall rally.

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