Back in March when Joseph Smith filed his candidacy for City Council in the picturesque city of Havre de Grace, Md., he wasn’t sure how his being openly gay would play out. Havre de Grace, on the shores of the Upper Chesapeake Bay with a population of about 13,000, is located in conservative Harford County.
Smith, 48, was one of seven candidates competing for three positions and was one of the four challengers in the race. A former vice president of the Stonewall Democrats of Central Maryland, Smith has been a resident of Havre de Grace since 2006 with his partner Don Starr.
He received endorsements from The Record/Aegis Newspaper, the New Harford Democratic Club, and the African-American Club of Harford County as well as from local citizens. On May 8, Smith won a seat, coming in third with 709 votes out of 1,500 cast.
“One of the highlights of my election in Havre de Grace was that my being openly gay was never an issue during the campaign,” Smith told the Blade. “None of my opponents mentioned it and one even told me after the election that if anyone brought it up they were quick to say it was a ‘non-issue.’ This demonstrates quiet progress for a part of the state that has a pretty conservative reputation.”