For many Americans, the past two Election Day dates have been their most memorable yet. This year alone, citizens have faced the open-ended pandemic, debated on vaccination options, heard the United States secretary of treasury warn that our government would potentially run out of money, and watched the Trump era of politics affect the next. The nation — and world — as we once knew it was changed immeasurably ahead of counting any Election Day ballots on Tuesday.
According to The United States Census Bureau, “Despite unique challenges to voter registration and voting created by COVID-19 and heightened concerns about turnout as a result, the 2020 election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century.” Our country’s off-year elections are arguably of equal community value, as regions have distinct priorities and consequences to consider. This week’s Election Day brought about reform that was not precisely foreseeable. The Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit public policy organization, shared the following:
“… Democrats woke up with a bad headache. The victories of 2018 and 2020 seemed like distant memories, and the future looked bleak indeed. But predicting the future from off-year elections is a little like reading the tea leaves — a murky and uncertain endeavor.”
Claim: Did Election Day 2021 result in historic political wins at the polls?
Rating: True. Several newly elected government officials all across the United States made history this Election Day.
Even so, with respect to diversity, strides were made in 2021 toward inclusion. Before Election Day, Harlem native Alvin Bragg served as chief deputy attorney general of New York State. Now, he is Manhattan’s latest district attorney and the first Black person elected into that coveted office. One of his primary vocational orders will be to pursue an investigation into Former President Donald Trump’s business practices. New York City itself had an array of principal developments.
As America’s largest city wrestles socioeconomic inequality, its administrators are pointed to reflect upon its fundamental genetic makeup more thoroughly. “Eric Leroy Adams, a former New York City police captain whose attention-grabbing persona and keen focus on racial justice fueled a decades-long career in public life, was elected… as the 110th mayor of New York and the second Black mayor in the city’s history,” wrote The New York Times. One of New York City’s boroughs was also in for a historic win — Vanessa Gibson, a community champion for nearly eight years in City Council, was elected as the first female Bronx borough president. Gibson is also a Black woman.
The Bronx-based win is debatably the largest since 2019 when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) became the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district. “Women of color are smashing ceilings in [politics], and every time we’re winning seats that weren’t meant for us… each win means that Blacks girls, Latinas, Black and Brown kings can aspire and hope to run for any office they set their mind to,” the Bronx Times transcribed from new borough president’s watch party message.
As the country has seen documented by the Census Bureau in the preceding election, young voters (ages 18-34) increased the most between polls. This collective became one of our country’s most significant change agents politically. Continuing the trend of women empowerment, New York City elected Shahana Hanif, “… a former City Council employee, won her election in a Brooklyn district… Hanif, who is Bangladeshi American, was the first Muslim woman elected to the Council in its history, despite the fact that the city is home to an estimated 769,000 Muslims,” confirmed BD News 24, the first internet-only newsgathering operation in Bangladesh. Despite extensive populaces and qualifications among minoritized peoples, wins as these mentioned seldom occur against white male candidates.
As The New York Times expanded, Hanif “… was one of two history-making South Asian candidates to win as well — the other, Shekar Krishnan, won a seat representing Jackson Heights and Elmhurst in Queens.” On election night, some regions released varied results in waves, and roughly 200 miles away in Boston, history was made once more. Their city’s first woman and person of color was declared into power as mayor, Michelle Wu. The 36-year-old town official is a product of an immigrant family from Taiwan. Her political account echoes several “rags to riches” American anecdotes.
Wu grew up on the outskirts of Chicago but relocated to the Boston area to attend Harvard Law School. As a student, she studied in Elizabeth Warren’s lectures. The mentioned publication noted that Boston is referenced as “… an old boys’ club [and]… has been led by an unbroken string of Irish American or Italian American men since the 1930s. Kim Janey, a Black woman, has served as acting mayor since March, when Mr. Walsh was confirmed as the U.S. labor secretary. Ms. Wu will also be the first mayor of Boston not born in the city since 1925.” Moreover, mayoral races were continuously triumphant regarding first-ever Black leadership in multiple cities.
Across state lines, Ed Gainey, a Democrat, is soon-to-be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor. Per CNN, “During the campaign, Gainey said he wanted to make Pittsburgh the country’s most ‘safe, affordable and diverse’ city and touted police reform and affordable housing. He has represented Pittsburgh in the state legislature since 2013…” Also, a former high-ranking police officer, Tyrone Garner will be the first Black mayor of Kansas City. Garner defeated his opponent with the vocal concern for community-driven inclusion. The Kansas City Star logged his 8,243 votes to David Alvey’s (the existing one-term incumbent’s) 7,934 tally.
The GOP secured a marquee win regarding the future lieutenant governor, Winsome Sear, a Black pro-Trump former Marine. NPR logged this Election Day record as “… the highest office a [non-white woman] has won in Virginia’s history.” Sears immigrated to America from Jamaica and is among “… 10 Black women in the US [that] have ever held statewide office,” WAMU chronicled. Returning to the midwest, Detroit, a center Al Jadid designates as the Arab capital of North America, elected the first Arab-American mayor. Abdullah Hammoud, a 31-year-old former state legislator — and son to Lebanese immigrants — defeated a 66-year-old seasoned politician.
Hammoud dedicated his victory speech to “… young girls and boys who have ever been ridiculed for their faith or ethnicity, to those of you who were ever made to feel that their names were unwelcome… and to others who were humiliated for their broken English and yet still persisted. Today is proof that you are as American as anyone else,” the Detroit Free Press summarized. The notion of what it means to be an American is getting a renewed perspective nationwide. For example, earlier this year, the Biden Administration endorsed Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Sentiments like these are reviving privileged public policies.
Bruce Harrell of Seattle claimed the ranking of mayor-elect in his hometown with a significant lead ahead of his more abolitionist-embracing opponent. Born to mixed-race parents, Harrell is officially the first Asian American and the second Black person to run his town. The Seattle Times wrote:
“Raised in the Central District by a Black father who worked for Seattle City Light after leaving the Jim Crow South and a Japanese American mother who worked for the public library after being incarcerated as a child by the government during World War II, Harrell mentioned his parents in his email to supporters [recognizing] ‘the barriers they overcame…’”