The Democratic party saw much-needed victories in Tuesday’s elections, securing important delegate positions and governorships that will help shape future progressive legislation in our political landscape.
Let’s take a look at some of these historical wins:
1. Andrea Jenkins (Minneapolis City Council)
Andrea Jenkins is the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in a major U.S. city. Her policies revolve around serving underserved communities. She works to amplify trans experiences as a historical curator at the University of Minneapolis, and she relays her experiences creatively as a poet. She has over a decade of experience as a policy aid.
2. Danica Roem (Virginia’s House of Delegates)
Danica Roem is one of the first openly transgender women to win a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates as a state lawmaker. What makes her victory especially sweet is that Roem beat Republican delegate Bob Marshall (also known as “Bigot Bob” and “chief homophobe”), the legislator who co-sponsored an amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2006, and wrote the infamous anti-trans bathroom bill. What’s more – she also happens to be a lead singer of a metal band called CAB RIDE HOME.
3. Wilmot Collins (Mayor of Helena, Montana)
After fleeing Liberia’s civil war and coming to the United States as a refugee over 20 years ago, Wilmot Collins is now officially Montana’s first-ever black mayor. With years of experience in child protection within the state’s Health and Human Services, Collins hopes to move policy forward even in the face of the discriminatory rhetoric of the presidential administration.
4. Cathy Murillo (Mayor of Santa Barbara, California)
Cathy Murillo, a councilwoman since 2011, is now the first Latina mayor of Santa Barbara. Having prevailed despite anonymous online attacks, Murillo strives to better housing and job opportunities, while also continuing to speak for the underrepresented communities she reached out to while campaigning.
5. Ravinder Bhalla (Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey)
Having served as city councilman for about eight years, Ravinder Bhalla was elected as the first Sikh mayor of New Jersey. Bigoted flyers with Bhalla’s face and the words “Don’t let terrorism take over our town!” were put up just a week before the election, but ultimately failed to negatively sway the constituents who believed in Bhalla and his policies.
6. Mazahir Salih (Iowa City Council)
Mazahir Salih is the first Sudanese-American to win a seat on the Iowa City Council. Having immigrated to the states from Sudan in 1997, Salih hopes to improve economic infrastructure, work on transportation, promote affordable housing, and dutifully represent the people of Iowa.
7. Kathy Tran (Virginia’s House of Delegates)
Kathy Tran, a former Vietnamese refugee, is now the first Asian American woman in the Virginia House of Delegates. Tran was driven to run for office by the hope of a brighter future for her daughter (born just four days after Trump’s inauguration) and a desire to be the voice for underrepresented Americans in this hostile political climate.
8. Sumbul Siddiqui (Cambridge City Council)
Beating out long time incumbents, Sumbul Siddiqui is now one of four women on the Cambridge City Council (with this position seeing the highest number of female candidates vying for a seat this year). Her platform includes tackling issues such as affordable housing (both within the community and for university students) and create sustainable development that will support Cambridge’s unique socioeconomic diversity.
While the Democratic party has a lot to work on in regards to party infrastructure, these wins certainly helped give us a taste of what it has the potential to be: a party of dreamers and doers from all different backgrounds and identities, willing to work tirelessly for a better America.