We made history last night through our local elections! We are thrilled to see so many “firsts” during this election season, particularly as many of the firsts were women and people of color. This is what progress looks like. This is what representation and an inclusive democracy could look like.
The work does not stop here. We know that to achieve positive systemic change, these election results are not the end of the road. Yet, we also must recognize that a key component of that change is getting more women, people of color and LGBTQ+ folk in the room and at the table – in seats that they’ve long since deserved and representing communities who have been disenfranchised. There is much more to do, but we want to pause for a moment to celebrate these steps forward. Congratulations to all the winners, but we want to especially acknowledge some historic electoral firsts:
- Sheila Oliver, the state’s first Black Lt. Governor of New Jersey
- Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person to be elected and seated as a state legislator. She will be serving in Virginia.
- Melvin Carter, the first Black mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota
- Kathy Tran, the first Asian American woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
- Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, the first-ever Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
- Marita Garrett, the first Black woman and youngest person to be elected Mayor of Wilkinsburg, PA
- Andrea Jenkins, the first openly transgender women of color elected to city council of a major city. She will be serving on the Minneapolis City Council.
- Ravi Bhalla, the first Sikh American mayor of Hoboken as well as the first Sikh American mayor in New Jersey state history.
- Vi Lyles, the first Black woman elected to be mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Sudanese American Mazahir Salih, the first Muslim woman and immigrant to be elected to Iowa City Council.
- Liberian American Wilmot Collins, the first Black mayor in Montana’s history. He arrived in Helena, Montana, 23 years ago as a refugee from Liberia.
- Joyce Craig, the first woman to be elected mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire.
- Tyler Titus, the first openly transgender person to be elected in the state of Pennsylvania.
- Janet Diaz, the first Latina member of city council in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
- Cathy Murillo, the first Latina mayor of Santa Barbara, California.
- Mary Parham Copelan, the first elected Black woman mayor of Milledgeville, Georgia
- Brendon Barber, the first elected Black mayor of Georgetown, South Carolina
- Michelle Kaufusi, the first woman elected to be mayor of Provo, Utah.
A special congratulations to our own Rachelle Hilliker from YWCA Great Lakes Bay who was elected to Bay City, Michigan’s Commission to represent the 5th Ward!
This is the type of change that can occur at the local level, when people use their collective power to make their voices heard. Every win inches us towards a more representative, more inclusive, more democratic future. Now that the votes are in, let’s get to work holding all our elected officials accountable and moving policies forward that allow women and girls and people of color to thrive.