While the 2020 Presidential Election is still taking place well after election day, there were many other races for the Senate, the House of Representatives, and other legislature positions that were already confirmed. Many people may have been focusing on Biden versus Trump, but it’s good to also be informed about other winners around the country who are breaking barriers.
Taylor Small, a 26-year-old candidate in Vermont’s Chittenden 6-7 district, won her race early in the night. She ran as a progressive Democrat and became Vermont’s first openly transgender legislator. Another success in Vermont was achieved by Kesha Ram, elected in Chittenden County. She became the first woman of color to be chosen to serve in the Vermont State Senate.
Sarah McBride, another transgender woman and LGBTQ+ activist running for Senate in Delaware, also won her race early on as the ballots were starting to come in. McBride is the first transgender Senator in the United States. After her win, she tweeted, “We did it. We won the general election. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.” Previously, McBride had also made history as the first openly trans person to work in the White House as an intern during Obama’s presidency.
In Kansas, an extremely red state, another transgender woman named Stephanie Byers won her race against a Republican challenger and became Kansas’ first transgender official. Byers used to be a teacher and had even won the title of National Educator of the Year by GLSEN, an American organization committed to end discrimination against kids based on sexual orientation and that also prompts LGBT awareness in K-12 schools across the country.
In the state of Missouri, Cori Bush became Missouri’s first Black woman elected to Congress. Bush is a single mother, a nurse, and an activist on the front lines when the world was watching Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of Micheal Brown. During her incredible victory speech, Bush said, “Tonight, we the people are victorious. We, we the people are going to Congress. Because we the people have committed to a vision of America that works for all of us. An America that treats every person with respect. That recognizes healthcare as a human right. That believes every person deserves food to eat, a home to live in, and a dignified life. Our America will be led not by the small-mindedness of a powerful few, but the imagination of a mass movement that includes all of us. That is the America we are fighting for.”
In Florida, Michele Rayner-Goolsby made history as the first Black queer woman to be elected as a legislator in the state.
In New York, Democratic candidate Ritchie Torres won his race and became the first gay Afro-Latino elected to the United States Congress. Previously, Torres served on the New York City Council.
In Pennsylvania, Jessica Benham, a Democrat who ran for state representative, won her race and made history as the first openly bisexual, openly autistic, and first openly queer woman elected to legislature in the state.
In Hawaii, Adrian Tam won his race, with over 60% of the vote, against a republican associated with a right-wing extremist group. Tam became Hawaii’s first openly LGBTQ+ person in the legislature.
Down south, Kim Jackson won her election to represent District 41 in the Georgia state Senate. She became the first out LGBTQ+ person to be elected in that specific chamber.
And finally, in Arizona, Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut running as a Democrat, won his Senate seat by taking incumbent Martha McSally’s seat. Kelly is a gun control advocate and his win gives Arizona two Democratic Senators, which has not happened since 1953.
Victories were also made by many states as several voted on long-term policy change. California passed Proposition 17, which gives Californians who were previously incarcerated, the right to vote again. In Mississippi, voters decided to change the state flag which had confederate imagery printed on it. The new flag, one that pays tribute to Native Americans, is already flying. And in Oregon, the citizens voted to decriminalize all drugs. This will completely change how the state handles those who are found using large amounts of hard-drugs and is a step in the right direction to help end the war on drugs.
Despite the majority of the country staring at news channels, watching the votes come in, anticipating the confirmation of the President, there have been many other stories worth reading arising from many states. These elections are inspiring and prove that change is happening and young people are voicing their opinions. During these past four years, it has been hard to stay hopeful, but these elections are proof that things can change and will continue to change as more people have the chance to vote and feel empowered.