Historic firsts on the evening of the 2021 elections

Here’s a look at some of the historic premieres of Election Night 2021.

Winsome Sears, a conservative Republican, will be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, breaking down barriers as the first woman and first woman of color in office in the Commonwealth’s 400-year legislative history. Sears defeated Democrat Del. Hala Ayala, also a woman of color.

“It’s a historic night – yes it is – but I didn’t run to write the story. I just wanted to leave it better than I found it,” Sears said in front of a crowd of supporters early Wednesday morning.

Sears, who was born in Jamaica, was the first black Republican woman to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly, representing the 90th district for a term.

Michelle Wu, Boston

City Councilor Michelle Wu will become Boston’s next mayor, making her the first woman and person of color to be elected to the highest office in the city’s history. Wu, a 36-year-old progressive Democrat who has touted policies such as a Green New Deal for Boston and a toll-free transit system, will now be mayor of a city that has long been ruled by white men.

“From all over our city, Boston has spoken. We are ready to meet that moment. We are ready to become a Boston for everyone,” Wu told a crowd of fans Tuesday night.

Wu won the title over City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, who is also a woman of color. Previously, Wu was the first Asian American woman elected to Boston City Council.

While Wu is the first woman of color to be elected mayor of Boston, she is not the first woman of color to hold the seat. Wu will succeed Acting Mayor Kim Janey, Boston’s first black and female mayor. Janey, then president of the city council, was next to lead the city when Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was named Labor Secretary to President Joe Biden in January.

Ed Gainey, Pittsburgh

Ed Gainey speaks to supporters at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts after winning the Pittsburgh mayoral election on his election night before Tuesday, November 2, 2021, in Pittsburgh.  Democrat Gainey defeated Republican candidate Tony Moreno.  Gainey will become the first black mayor of Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania State Representative Ed Gainey was elected Pittsburgh’s first black mayor on Tuesday. The Democratic politician defeated Republican Tony Moreno, a retired Pittsburgh police officer, after campaigning to make Pittsburgh the most “safe, affordable and diverse” city in the country and extolling police reform and affordable housing. He has represented Pittsburgh in the state legislature since 2013 and previously worked for Pittsburgh Mayors Luke Ravenstahl and Tom Murphy.
“This win isn’t just my win, it’s a Pittsburgh win,” Gainey said on twitter Tuesday evening.

Aftab Pureval, Cincinnati

Aftab Pureval speaks during an Election Eve party on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, in Cincinnati.

Aftab Pureval, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Cincinnati on Tuesday, becoming the first Asian American to hold the post. Pureval, a 39-year-old lawyer, defeated City Councilor David Mann, also a Democrat who had previously served as mayor of Cincinnati and represented Ohio in the United States House of Representatives, to land the city’s top job .

“Words cannot express how honored and excited I am to be the next mayor of Cincinnati. Tonight we made history! Let’s get down to business,” Pureval said on twitter Tuesday.

Bruce Harrell, Seattle

Bruce Harrell, who is running against Lorena Gonzalez in the Seattle mayoral race, addresses his supporters on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, election night in Seattle.

Bruce Harrell, a Democrat, will become Seattle’s first Asian American mayor. The former moderate city council president defeated progressive city council president Lorena González, winning the seat. Harrell, who is of Japanese and black descent, is also Seattle’s second black mayor.

Elaine O’Neal, Durham

Elaine O'Neal, future elected mayor of Durham, North Carolina.

Elaine O’Neal will be the first black woman mayor of Durham, North Carolina. O’Neal, a former judge and former acting dean of the law school at Central University of North Carolina, introduced himself on the topic of strengthening public safety, access to housing and use. Her opponent, city councilor Javiera Caballero, suspended her campaign after the primary but remained on the ballot

Eric Adams, New York

New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams smiles at supporters Tuesday, November 2, 2021 in New York City.
In addition to a number of historic firsts, New York City has had a historic second, as Eric Adams became the second black mayor in the city’s history.

Adams, a Democrat, is a retired New York Police Department captain who adopted a public safety message. Originally from Brooklyn and currently president of his borough, Adams won a chaotic Democratic primary this summer by vowing to both strengthen and reform the NYPD amid concerns over an increase in violent crime. His message – that “public safety is the prerequisite for prosperity” – resonated with working-class Democratic voters outside the traditionally liberal enclaves of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, which fueled his nomination. .

CNN’s Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.



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