Thursday, April 18, 2024

Nevada’s First Openly Gay Latino Mayor

Daniel Corona becomes the first openly gay Latino in West Wendover, Nevada.  This is Corona’s second term, he was first elected in 2016 after winning by only 100 votes and becoming the youngest mayor in the state. The win is not something that he ever expected in a rural, northeastern Nevada city in Elko Country, which is one of the state’s most conservative areas.

Elko County is small region with a little more than 4,200 people which is predominantly white and where mining is still the top industry. But West Wendover is a casino town and where 60% of the population there are Latinos. In this year elections Elko County remained Republican, but Democratic candidates won in West Wendover, making it the only city in a deep red county to turn blue.

City officials believe that this result was due to the increasing amount of young Latino resident voters. When asked about this, Corona stated. “West Wendover might be a place where there are strong conservative groups, but there’s a growing kind of progressive bend. It just goes to show you that rural America and rural Nevada aren’t just monoliths.”

Corona expressed that he first came out as gay when he was in high school and to his surprise, most of his classmates were very acceptive. He became interested in politics at the age of 16 when he heard a speech by former President Obama. When he was first elected in 2016, he also saw the support in his community, with only a few people focused on his sexual orientation.

During his first term as mayor, Corona helped legalized recreational marijuana in West Wendover and later in the entire state on Nevada. He also helped open the first marijuana dispensary in the county, which created jobs and made $500,000 in tax revenue. He helped making local government more accessible to residents by posting city news on social media platforms, which also helped expose the community to more liberal perspectives. In 2017, he also spearheaded and passed a city resolution that supported DACA.

After this year elections, the results showed in the West Wendover, Nevada, Biden received 427 votes, Trump 417, and Corona, who was running for mayor as his second term, received 620 votes. Once he found out about these results, he said, “To me that means, a lot of people who voted for Trump also voted for me, which is strange because I think of myself as the opposite of him but it also shows me that there’s a lot of people who understand that I’m not just a mayor for one group or party, but working for everyone who lives here”.