Jamie Shiner is making political history

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Jamie Shiner shows off her buttons at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last September. Shiner hopes to serve someday on the Democratic National Committee. -PHOTO: Lisa Neff/WiG

People take a shine to Jamie Shiner.

Perhaps it’s her energy. Perhaps it’s her enthusiasm. Perhaps it’s her engaging opening joke – told with a thick accent – about being a “UPer.”

Shiner hopes the shine translates into votes. In early June, she’s seeking to be elected second vice chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. That would be a history-making win for the state’s LGBT community and a milestone for Shiner, already the first out transgender person elected from Wisconsin to the Democratic National Convention.

Shiner is the second vice chair of the Democratic Party of Brown County, a member of the resolution and platform committee in the 8th Congressional District, vice chair of the state party’s LGBT caucus and a member of Equality Wisconsin’s endorsement board.

She’s also graduated from LGBT and party leadership training programs.  A “lifelong Democrat,” she’s worked to elect party candidates since 1984, most recently campaigning for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Other party volunteers and officials in Brown County say Shiner regularly opened the campaign headquarters in the weeks before the November 2012 election and that she’s often the first to volunteer for a project.

Nancy Schleis, who has volunteered with Shiner in Brown County and attended the 2012 national convention with her in Charlotte, N.C., says, “Jamie has the intelligence, the passion and the ethics to make a difference for many people in her fight for fairness, justice and equality for all.”

As she seeks support for the state office, Shiner is talking with lots of Democrats around the state.

And that’s what she hopes to keep doing if elected to the post, which is an unpaid position that Shiner describes as “kind of like being the vice president – what you have is what you make of it.”

She’d like to make the second vice chair a “liaison between the state party and the county parties, attending as many meetings as possible, bringing the thoughts and concerns of all parts of our state into light.”

She’d also continue to be a voice in the party on LGBT issues.

Being a “good Democrat,” Shiner says, means “accepting all people, all your brothers and sisters. It means fairness. It means everyone deserves an equal shake. I want everyone to play on an equal playing field.”

Shiner’s thinking about her immediate election, but like many political enthusiasts she’s also looking ahead. She’s thinking that by the 2016 national convention – or perhaps 2020 – she might be elected to serve on the Democratic National Committee.