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Openly transgender Texas mayor who transitioned after appointment loses bid for two-year term

Jess Herbst, Texas' first openly transgender mayor, lost her bid for a two-year term. Herbst was appointed mayor in 2016, and made the transition from male to female while in office. She finished third in Saturday's election. (Image source: Video screenshot)

A transgender mayor, who transitioned after being appointed mayor, lost a bid for a two-year term in New Hope, a small Texas town about 40 miles northeast of Dallas.

Jess Herbst was known as Jeff when first appointed as mayor in 2016 shortly after the death of the Collin County town's former mayor. Herbst transitioned from male to female while in office, which drew media attention from all over the world.

The 59-year-old former alderman and road commissioner aspired to become the first openly transgender official elected in Texas.

Herbst lost to Angel Hamm, the widow of the town's former mayor, who amassed 95 votes. Melissa Brown came in second with 76 votes. Herbst came in third with 53 votes, and Michael Rivera had a  seven votes.

"I want to congratulate Angel Hamm on her win and express how proud I am of New Hope for a record voter turnout," Herbst told the Dallas Morning News in a statement Saturday. "Democracies live by voter engagement or die by voter apathy, and democracy is alive and well in New Hope today."

In the weeks leading up to the election, voters received an anonymous mailer that featured Herbst's social media posts.

The mailer pitted residents against each other over the media spotlight that the candidate's transition had garnered for the small town. Observers believe the controversy likely prompted many voters to head to the polls.

By Wednesday, nearly 40 percent of the town's 480 registered voters had already turned out to cast their vote in the controversial election. New Hope's has a population of about 630.

Herbst told the Morning News she's glad her candidacy pushed people to get out and vote.

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