Historical Wins: Election Day 2021

Winsome Sears, a Marine veteran, Jamaican immigrant and a conservative Republican, will be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor. The daughter of immigrants, Sears immigrated to the United States at the age of six, growing up in the Bronx, New York City. She is the first female and first woman of color elected to the Virginia General Assembly.  But this isn’t the only time that Winsome Sears has made history with her election— Sears previously served in Virginia’s House of Delegates, the first Black Republican woman, first female veteran and first ‘legal immigrant’ woman elected to the position. 

Sears won against Democrat Hala Ayala, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, by a two-point margin. This victory came as Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe. Glenn Youngkin entered the race as an underdog, but his victory has seen Democrats from the House and Senate offering claims for Terry McAuliffe’s loss. Senator Mark Warner (D., Va) claimed that McAuliffe would have won if Congress has passed the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill sooner. With voters delivering a Democratic hold in the White House, Congress and the Senate, they expected politicians to deliver. A lack of results has caused many voters to turn to other candidates, such as Winsome Sears and Glenn Youngkin. 

Winsome Sear’s election to the Virginia General Assembly as Lieutenant Governor, as well as Glenn Youngkin’s win for Virginia’s new governor, has largely been seen as “a referendum on Joe Biden’s presidency.” Events such as rising inflation, a slow economic recovery, highly partisan politics as well as what has been described as a “chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan,” have all impacted his popularity, now shown in midterm election results.  

But Sears was not the only candidate who made history on Election Day this year. Ed Gainey, Pennsylvania State Representative, was elected as the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh. The first-ever Asian American was elected mayor of Cincinnati, Democrat Aftab Pureval, defeating longtime Cincinnati politician David Mann. Democrat Bruce Harrell, will become Seattle’s first Asian American mayor, defeating progressive City Council President Lorena González. In New York, Eric Adams became the second Black mayor in the city’s history, a retired New York Police Department captain who won on a platform to reform and “beef up” the NYPD amid worries over a rise in violent crime. 

In Boston, Michelle Wu, daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, shattered barriers in a historic Boston mayor’s race. Not only the first woman and first person of color elected mayor in Boston but also the youngest in nearly a century. Just twelve years ago, Ayanna Pressley became the first woman of color elected to the city council. Today, Michelle Wu is poised to serve alongside the most diverse council ever, one dominated by immigrants, women and other people of color, “ushering in a new era of representation.”