By Cynthia Richie Terrell on November 05, 2021
As voters chose moderate Democrat Eric Adams as mayor, the City Council replenished its ranks of progressives in an election that turned over most of its seats on Tuesday, while potentially adding some Republican newcomers.
Three races were too close to call as of early Wednesday morning — including a re-election bid by Brooklyn Democrat Justin Brannan, who wants to become the Council’s speaker.
The coming class of 51 City Council members includes many first-time candidates and more women serving than in any time in its history. The 31 women who won or are favored to win will more than double the current Council’s class of female leaders.
Among them will be the first Muslim woman to serve, Shahana Hanif of Brooklyn’s 39th District. Speaking to supporters Tuesday night in Brooklyn — following her participation in 10 days of a 14-day hunger strike with taxi workers — Hanif said she will “keep a check on the mayor” in her new role.
RCV on Election Day, By-the-Numbers
- A record 32 cities successfully used RCV on Election Day, across seven states (UT, DE, MA, ME, MI, MN, and NM).
- RCV was successfully used in elections in the largest cities in Utah, Maine, and Minnesota.
- 22 cities successfully used RCV for the first time on Election Day.
- 20 cities successfully used RCV in Utah as part of a statewide pilot program, including 19 for the first time. These cities included Salt Lake City, Sandy, and Lehi -- three of the 11 largest cities in the state.
- All three ballot measures to adopt RCV elections passed yesterday: Broomfield, CO; Westbrook, ME; and Ann Arbor, MI. Voters have now approved 13 straight ballot measures to adopt RCV in cities. Earlier in 2021, Austin, TX and Burlington, VT voters approved ballot measures to adopt RCV.
Last night, New York City elected its second Black mayor and its first-ever majority-female City Council, as well as its first South Asian-American, Muslim woman, and Black gay women Council Members. All of these candidates won in New York City’s first-ever RCV primaries in June and will now comprise New York City’s most diverse government ever.
High-profile mayoral races in Boston and Atlanta have gone to expensive runoffs or second-round elections this year. The use of RCV has removed the need for separate runoffs, and an extended campaign season, in large cities such as New York City and Minneapolis.
The fact that Winsome E. Sears and Del. Jason S. Miyares (Virginia Beach) are both Republicans reflects the inroads the GOP is making in the African American and Latino communities that have long favored Democrats, political analysts say.
By reaching those historic milestones first with a ticket led by Glenn Youngkin, the governor-elect, that was more diverse than the Democrats’, which featured two White men, Republicans now hold a symbolic advantage over Democrats, said L. Douglas Wilder, who as a Democrat during the 1980s and ’90s became Virginia’s first Black lieutenant governor and governor.
Wu, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, sailed to a win against fellow Democrat Annissa Essaibi-George— another city councilor who is Arab American. Wu has ended the city’s 200-year span of white male leadership. Acting mayor Kim Janey became the first Black woman to hold the mayorship after Marty Walsh resigned in March to become President Joe Biden’s labor secretary.
This election significantly departed from the city’s usual political environment, with no incumbent seeking reelection. This mayoral race created a fruitful scenario for multiple women of color to run for the mayor seat. Research from think tank RepresentWomen indicates that women are more likely to win in open-seat races like that of Boston. Male incumbency advantage and the risk of becoming a “spoiler candidate” if multiple women run causes a chilling effect for women candidates.
Apalachicola now has an all-female city commission, with the swearing in Oct. 5 of Mayor Brenda Ash to complete the last two years of the four-year term of the late Kevin Begos, and with that taking of oaths for full four-year terms for commissioners Anita Grove and Donna Duncan.
The three join incumbents Despina George and Adriane Elliott on the commission.
Ash, the first female mayor of Apalachicola, said she is looking forward to the future. “I think it’s going to be good,” she said.
“As with any board, each of us brings a different perspective to the role, which is good,” she said. “We all have different points of view, different backgrounds.
“Women see things differently; we have a tendency to look at things from all perspectives,” Ash said. “We’re more apt to look at unintended consequences of a decision."
DeDreana Freeman and Mark-Anthony Middleton also won reelection in Wards I and II in the Durham City Council elections. Leonardo Williams won the Ward III election in a much closer contest, only beating opponent AJ Williams by 635 votes.
Only 15.18% of registered Durham voters voted in Tuesday’s municipal elections, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
O’Neal defeated mayoral candidate Javiera Caballero—who suspended her campaign following the primary election in October—receiving 84.69% of the vote.
Warren (D-Mass.) is familiar with the history of progressive advocates being consistently dismissed until their visions become realized. At the height of her 2020 presidential campaign, she delivered a remarkable speech putting her ambitious plans in powerful perspective: “Over and over throughout our history, Americans have been told that big structural change just wasn’t possible: They should just give up. … They didn’t give up. They organized. They created a grass-roots movement. They persisted. And they changed the course of American history.”....
“So what did one woman — one very persistent woman — backed by millions of people across the country, get done?” Warren asked. “Social Security. Unemployment insurance. Abolition of child labor. Minimum wage. The right to join a union. Even the very existence of the weekend. Big. Structural. Change.”
She’s right. Change comes from people like Perkins and Warren: those with the moral clarity and the tenacity to continue the fight for progress, through losses and long odds — until that “right moment to rendezvous with a political need” finally arrives. And for her efforts, Warren hasn’t gotten the credit she deserves.