Independent candidate Owen J Hurcum has been officially elected mayor of Bangor, Wales, making them the youngest mayor in Welsh history and, it is understood, the world’s first openly non-binary mayor. Hurcum, who is agender and genderqueer, was unanimously voted in by The City of Bangor Council this week, having won the city’s mayoral election in March. The new mayor said they were “beyond humbled” to be elected by their community.
At only 23 years of age, Hurcum has been a councillor in Bangor for four years and has already held the position of deputy mayor and chair of the committee for the council, as well as other subgroups. Speaking on their election, Hurcum said they want to “secure more local housing for local people, and work on the greening landscapes”. They also commented on Twitter that as the first non-binary mayor, “representation is not just putting on the chain” and that they will be judged based on what they do as part of a team for Bangor.
I just want to say a huge diolch to all the lovely messages that are still coming in. I know representation is not just putting on the chain and Ill be judged by what we do as a team for Bangor during my year in office, but still, Im glad my election has resonated with so many 💜 pic.twitter.com/DNCzQyppDg
— Mayor Owen J Hurcum 🏴🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈🇪🇺 (@OwenJHurcum) May 11, 2021
Hurcum is originally from Harrow, London, but moved to Bangor to study archaeology five years ago. “Within a week, I fell in love with it and tried to throw myself into the city’s culture,” they said. “Bangor has a lot to offer and I hope I can do a good job of showing and embracing that.”
They emphasised the importance of promoting the city to their upcoming work. “Whilst the Mayoral office is heavily ceremonial in nature,” they wrote, “it’s good to be able to use it to talk about how great Bangor is as a city because genuinely there is nowhere I’d rather be.”
When I came out two years ago I was so worried I'd be ostracized by my community or worse. Today my community elected me Mayor of our great City. The youngest ever Mayor in Wales. The first ever openly Non-Binary Mayor of any city anywhere. Beyond humbled, Diolch Bangor 🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/pGHiaQTVaO
— Mayor Owen J Hurcum 🏴🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈🇪🇺 (@OwenJHurcum) May 10, 2021
Hurcum said that they were worried they would be ostracised by their community when they first came out in 2019. In an interview with BBC Radio Wales, they explained that Bangor may not be perceived as a hub of metropolitan tolerance, but said that living there helped them be true to their identity.
They also said they had fears because “local government has this unfair reputation of possibly being old and backwards, and I was worried that those views may come from fellow councillors.” However, Hurcum said they have had the “exact opposite” experience and that “every single councillor was extremely supportive.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start date of Hurcum’s term is currently undecided, however, they expressed pride in their community’s strength in times of uncertainty. Speaking to North Wales Live they said, “I’m incredibly proud of how our community is rallying together to get everyone through this, from those who set up Bangor Emergency Resources for Self-Isolators, to our key workers keeping our community supplied and healthy.”
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