In a night of many firsts, several minority and LGBT candidates won local elections that echoed the blue wave in which Democrats won races large and small.
Two openly transgender candidates won races as well as the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey and first African-American mayors in major cities.
First openly transgender state lawmaker elected in Virginia
Danica Roem defeated incumbent delegate Bob Marshall, who had been elected 13 times over 26 years, for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. When Roem takes office, she will be the first openly transgender candidate to be elected and serve in a state legislative body.
Althea Garrison, elected in Massachusetts, was the first openly transgender person to serve in a state legislature, but did not campaign as an openly transgender person during her race in 1992.
The race between Roem and Marshall to represent Virginia’s 13th district, which encompasses Prince William County and Manassas Park, had been rooted in ideological opposites.
Marshall had been at odds with LGBT issues and had proposed a state bill in 2015 that would allow anyone who has a license with the state to refuse services to gay people and earlier this year introduced a bill to restrict transgender people’s access to public restrooms, CNN local affiliates reported.
During the campaign, Marshall refused to use Roem’s correct pronouns.
Roem was open about her gender identity and had backing from LGBT groups.
“To every person who has ever been singled out, who has ever been stigmatized, who has ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own because there is no one else with them, this one is for you,” she told her supporters Tuesday night.
Prior to running for office, Roem worked as a journalist.
First openly transgender person of color elected to public office
Andrea Jenkins won a seat in the Minneapolis City Council to represent the city’s 8th ward, the Star Tribune reported. She won more than 70% of the votes, the newspaper reported.
Jenkins had served as a senior policy aide to two Ward 8 city council members. She touted more than 25 years of public service experience as a policy aide, nonprofit executive director, consultant and employment specialist on her website. She also described herself as a poet, writer and performer.
First Sikh mayor elected in New Jersey
Hoboken voters chose Ravinder Bhalla, who became the first Sikh mayor to be elected in the state of New Jersey.
Bhalla, who had served in the Hoboken City Council for two terms was backed by the city’s mayor Dawn Zimmer, who decided not to seek another term.
“Thank you Hoboken. I look forward to being your Mayor!” Bhalla tweeted on Tuesday night.
Bhalla was born and raised in New Jersey. After finishing law school, he moved to Hoboken to work at a law firm. He won Tuesday in a six-person race for the mayor’s seat.
The race had become divisive recently as campaign fliers popped up with a picture of Bhalla in his turban that read “Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town,” reported NJ.com.
First lesbian mayor elected in Seattle
Jenny Durkan is projected to win the mayoral race, which would make her the first lesbian mayor in Seattle, reported the Seattle Times.
Durkan was born in Seattle and attended law school at the University of Washington. In 2009, she became the nation’s first openly gay US Attorney after being appointed by then-President Barack Obama.
The mayor’s race unexpectedly became wide open earlier this year after former Seattle mayor Ed Murray ended his re-election bid and resigned amid accusations of sexual abuse.
Here are some more historical firsts from Election Day:
- Vi Lyles became the first black woman to be elected mayor of Charlotte.
- Kathy Tran became the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
- Melvin Carter III was elected St. Paul’s first mayor of color.
- Zachary DeWolf became Seattle’s first openly gay school board member.