Progressive Democrat Davante Lewis has become the first out LGBTQ+ person elected to statewide office in Louisiana as well as the first out LGBTQ+ Black person elected to any public office in the state.
Lewis, 30, recently won a runoff election and was elected to the Louisiana Public Service Commission, a regulatory agency focused on ensuring reasonably priced public utilities. It also works on state energy policy.
While the position is not something voters often pay close attention to, Nola.com said far more eyes were on this race due to high natural gas prices causing increased utility bills and a weak electrical grid that has proven to be no match for hurricanes.
Lewis’s platform included holding utility monopolies accountable for the way they use their profits, investing in green jobs, pushing utility companies to adopt clean and renewable energy sources, and protecting the rights of those paying for utilities by banning excessive late fees, providing a fixed billing system for senior citizens, ending service disconnections, and more.
He is also focused on ensuring the durability of the electrical grid after it has proved insufficient against increasingly severe weather driven by climate change. Last year, for example, millions in the state had no power for weeks after Hurricane Ida.
Davante won out against three-term incumbent Lambert Boissiere III.
In a speech to supporters after his victory, Lewis declared “a new chapter for Louisiana.”
“Tonight, the people of Louisiana start taking our power back. Tonight, Louisiana has a Public Service Commissioner who’s unafraid to hold Entergy [a utility company] accountable, because I owe this victory to the people of Louisiana and their commitment to a brighter, cleaner, and 100 percent renewable future.”
“Realizing this vision will take hard work from our entire movement,” he added, after thanking supporters. “The monopoly utility companies, oil, gas and petrochemical industries and political establishment who tried to sink our movement will not disappear because of this election. We must continue to root out corruption and unrig the system, to hold me and my fellow commissioners accountable, and to advocate for bold, new solutions.”
“But tonight shows that together, we are up to the challenge and I look forward to spending the next six years fighting every day for you.”
In a statement from the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed Lewis, President and CEO Annise Parker celebrated the victory.
“For far too long, Black people and the LGBTQ community have lacked equitable representation in government —with the scars to show for it. Davante shattered this lavender ceiling because voters were enthusiastic about his life-long service to Louisiana, his commitment to working families and his keen ability to forge and activate diverse coalitions.”
“We are confident these qualities and his exceptional career as a climate champion and public policy expert will make him an effective leader for all Louisianans, especially the LGBTQ community who have faced a sharp uptick in homophobia and transphobia this year. His election is a shining example that when LGBTQ people run, we win.”