7 Women of Color Who Made History in Tuesday's Elections

For the third Trump-era Election Day, women of color achieved major victories on both state and local levels.
November 6, 2019, 6:02pm
Regina Romero and Safiya Khalid
Regina Romero (L) and Safiya Khalid by Michele Stapleton (R) 

After Tuesday’s off-year elections, Democrats have much to celebrate, including flipping Virginia’s legislature for the first time in more than 15 years and winning Kentucky’s gubernatorial election. Motivated by issues including gun control, climate change, and immigration, Democratic women of color won historic victories on the state and local level in another post-Trump election cycle.

In last year’s Congressional midterm elections, women of color across the country similarly achieved a series of historical firsts on the basis of their age, race, religion, socio-economic status, and immigrant identities. Political experts tied many of their victories to growing frustrations with the Trump administration’s anti-minority policies and actions. Four of those women: Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley quickly became progressive icons, picking up the nickname “The Squad.”

With recent wins under their belts, here are the newly elected women following in their footsteps.

Ghazala Hashmi is the first Muslim woman and Indian American woman elected to Virginia's State Senate

AP Images

Democrat Ghazala Hashmi unseated Republican incumbent Sen. Glen Sturtevant on Tuesday, making her the first Muslim woman elected to Virginia’s state senate in history. Her victory helped turn Virginia’s state legislature blue for the first time since 1994.

“This victory, is not mine alone,” she tweeted following the final election results. “It belongs to all of you who believed that we needed to make progressive change here in Virginia, for all of you who felt that you haven’t had a voice and believed in me to be yours in the General Assembly.”

Her campaign focused on gun control and Medicaid expansion, two issues that Sturtevant has opposed since he became a state senator in 2016. She has said that the Trump administration’s travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations inspired her to run.

Hashmi is a former community college professor who immigrated to the U.S. from India as a child. She and Suhas Subramanyam, who also won his election and will serve in the Virginia House of Delegates, will be the first Indian Americans to serve in the Virginia state legislature.

Regina Romero is the first woman and first Latina to become Tucson mayor

Three-term city council member Regina Romero made history on Tuesday as the first woman and first Latina elected mayor in Tucson, Arizona. Her election is considered a long overdue victory for Latinx representation in the city, where the population is over 40 percent Latinx.

Romero defeated Independent Ed Ackerley and Green Mike Cease, receiving more than 55 percent of the vote. She will replace two-term mayor Jonathan Rothschild, who did not seek re-election. Romero’s campaign focused on addressing the climate crisis, creating jobs, and improving infrastructure.

Shawyn Patterson-Howard became the first woman elected mayor of Mount Vernon, New York

On Tuesday, Shawyn Patterson-Howard won her election against acting Mayor Andre Wallace and Rosemarie Jarosz. She will become Mount Vernon’s first woman mayor and first Black woman mayor.

Her win follows a campaign finance scandal that caused former mayor Richard Thomas to step down causing Wallace to take his place. Patterson-Howard has said that she is dedicated to bringing stability back to Mount Vernon.

Safiya Khalid is the first Somali American and youngest person elected to Lewiston City Council in Maine

Safiya Khalid by Michael Stapleton

Inspired by her opposition to President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, 23-year-old Safiya Khalid ran and won her election on Tuesday for the Lewiston, Maine city council. She is the first Somali American, first Somali immigrant, and youngest person to serve on the council in Lewiston’s history.

Nadia Mohamed is the first Muslim woman and first Somali American on the St. Louis Park City Council in Minnesota

On Tuesday, 23-year-old Nadia Mohamed won her race against Joseph Israel for St. Louis Park City Council with 63 percent of the vote. She previously served on the St. Louis Park Multicultural Advisory Committee hosting community events and planning community outreach.

Her campaign focused on racial equity, climate change, and housing.

Donyel Barber is the first Black woman on Gastonia City Council in North Carolina

Donyel Barber ousted incumbent David Humphries on Tuesday, taking home nearly 58 percent of the city’s vote. She will be Gastonia’s first Black councilwoman in the city’s history. Barber is currently a community-centered health coordinator for Gaston Family Health Services and an advocate for health equity.

Abrar Omeish is the youngest woman to hold elected office in Virginia’s history, one of the first two Muslim women to hold elected office in the state, and the first Libyan American to hold elected office in the U.S.

After running a campaign focused on underserved and underrepresented communities, 24-year-old Abrar Omeish won her election on Tuesday, landing her a spot on the Fairfax County School Board. She and Ghazala Hashmi, who was elected to the state legislature, are the first two Muslim women to hold elected office in Virginia.

Omeish made headlines earlier this year when she says she was pepper-sprayed and forced to remove her hijab during a routine traffic stop.

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