22 Democrats Who Made History In The 2017 Elections

by Kat Kothen-Hill

In the first major election since the 2016 disaster, there were many important wins for Democrats. And one of the most magical outcomes is the sheer number of women who ran for office and the fact that this list is dominated by history-making women. In the era of Trump, this is a major step towards overcoming the ignorance, discrimination, and sexism running rampant in American politics.

1. Danica Roem was elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates, making her Virginia’s first openly transgender state lawmaker. Roem, a 32 year old journalist, beat Republican Bob Marshall, the man who introduced the “bathroom bill” to prohibit transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice. Marshall had served in the Virginia House of Delegates for 26 years and once called himself “chief homophobe.”

2. Andrea Jenkins, a transgender activist, became the first openly transgender African American woman elected to the city council of a major city in the U.S. Jenkins was elected to the Minneapolis City Council.

3. Justin Fairfax became the second African American lieutenant governor in Virginia. “This is why we’re Democrats. You have to lift other people as you climb. Life is not just about your success,” Fairfax told WTVR. “You have to fight and make sure that that story is possible for everyone.” 

4. Sheila Oliver was elected New Jersey’s first black lieutenant governor. Oliver was previously New Jersey’s first African American woman to be elected as Assembly Speaker. This also made her the second black woman speaker in American history.

5. Democrat Phil Murphy will replace Chris Christie as governor of New Jersey. The New York Times reports Murphy said, “This is the first major election since Donald Trump was elected. Tonight, New Jersey sent an unmistakable message to the entire nation — we are better than this.” 

6. Ralph Northam won against Trump-supported Ed Gillespie to become Virginia’s governor. 

7+8. Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala defeated Republican incumbents to become the first two Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

9. Vi Lyles became Charlotte, North Carolina’s first female African American mayor.

10. Joyce Craig was elected mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire, becoming the first woman mayor in the city’s history.

11. Tyler Titus won a seat on the Erie School Board in Pennsylvania and became the first openly transgender person elected in the state.

12. Ravinder Bhalla became the first Sikh American to be elected as mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey. Bhalla was the target of racist flyers with the phrase “Don’t let terrorism take over our town!” written above a picture of his face. Bhalla responded on Facebook by saying, “Of course, this is troubling, but I want to be clear: We won’t let hate win in Hoboken.”

13. Mary Parham Copeland was elected Milledgeville, Georgia’s first black female mayor. Copeland beat the Republican incumbent Gary Throw by six votes.

14. Cathy Murillo became the first Latina mayor of Santa Barbara, California.

15. Jenny Durkan won Seattle, Washington’s mayoral race. She will be Seattle’s first openly lesbian mayor and the first female mayor since 1928.

16. Wilmot Collins, a former Liberian refugee, was elected as the mayor Helena, Montana, becoming the first black mayor ever elected in Montana.

17. Melvin Carter became St. Paul, Minnesota’s first African American mayor.

18. Brendon Barber was elected Georgetown, South Carolina’s first African American mayor.

19. Kathy Tran became the first Asian American woman elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates. Tran is a former Vietnamese refugee.

20. Janet Diaz was elected to the city council of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This makes her the first Latina member of Lancaster’s city council.

21. Laura Curran won a seat on Palm Spring’s city council, making her the first openly transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California.

22. Chris Hurst was elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates. Hurst’s girlfriend, Alison Parker, was shot and killed during a live news broadcast in 2015. His opponent was endorsed by the NRA.

Photo via Flickr/Liz Lemon.

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