Voters elect diverse group of candidates in historic elections

Across the country, politicians like Michelle Wu of Boston and Ed Gainey of Pittsburgh became the first people of color elected to their respective roles.

A photo of Michelle Wu dressed in red addressing a crowd of masked supporters from a podium.

Constituents around the U.S. participated in a historic election where many candidates became the first person of color to be elected to their role.

These newly elected officials represent a series of firsts around the country. Michelle Wu became the first woman and first woman of color elected as mayor of Boston. Ed Gainey and Tyrone Garner were elected the first Black mayors of Pittsburgh and Kansas City, Kansas, respectively. Winsome Sears became the first woman and woman of color Lieutenant Governor from Virginia. These newly elected representatives signify a shift toward more diversity and representation in government.

Andrew Feldman, founder and principal of the progressive communications firm Feldman Strategies, emphasized that historic wins prove the importance of having elected officials represent what the United States looks like. Feldman has worked with a variety of progressive nonprofits, organizations and campaigns.

“When you peel back the initial headlines and dig into the results from Tuesday night, there are a lot of historic firsts and historic victories,” Feldman said. “And that is, you know, critically important to our elected leaders in an office that truly represents what America looks like.”

“One of my sons asked me the other night if boys can be elected mayor in Boston,” Wu said in her victory speech. “They have been and they will again someday, but not tonight. On this day, Boston elected your mom.”

Feldman commented on the significance of her story, saying that “[t]he fact that a young person can think and have in their mind that only women serve in elected office or only serve in a position shows how much progress there has been.”

However, Rory McShane, a Republican strategist who worked in both of the elections in Virginia and New Jersey this year, believes that it is ideologies – not demographics – that characterize the significance of the election.

“I think the goal is to have the best and most competent and most principled elected officials that we can,” McShane said. “And I think that you saw in Virginia a very diverse group of people in elected office, not because of their skin color or their gender or their heritage.”

Caroline Olesky, a senior at Boston University and a former member of Michelle Wu’s campaign for one year, was thrilled about Wu’s victory.

“This is huge and broke down a huge wall,” Olesky said. “Boston is basically the oldest city in the U.S., and in 400 years, this is the first female and first female of color that has been elected. And not only that, but that she was able to win in these precincts that are historically very racist.”

For Olesky, working for Wu’s campaign was a life-changing experience.

“I felt like this campaign staff was really young and really diverse, and that was definitely really positive for me,” she said.

Kelly Dietrich, founder and CEO of the National Democratic Training Committee, said, “our country is becoming more diverse and that is a strength and something we should be proud of. And the more we can empower [the more] we can support, lift up and elect a broader coalition of people to office, the better our country will be.”

Correction: This story was corrected Nov. 6 to accurately reflect the name of Kelly Dietrich’s organization as the National Democratic Training Committee.