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Minority, LGBT Candidates Win Statewide, Local US Elections

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FILE - Danica Roem, then the Democratic nominee for the House of Delegates' 13th District seat, holds campaign signs as she canvasses a neighborhood in Manassas, Virginia, June 21, 2017. Roem became the nation's first openly transgender woman elected to a state legislature when she defeated Delegate Robert Marshall Nov. 7.

While much of the attention has been focused on U.S. Democratic candidates who won two significant gubernatorial races Tuesday, there were also sweeping Democratic victories throughout the United States for a number of minority and LGBT candidates.

As Democrats won gubernatorial races in the swing state of Virginia and in New Jersey, Election Day was historic for a number of minority and LBGT candidates on state and local levels.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Andrea Jenkins became the first openly transgender woman of color to be elected to public office in the U.S. Jenkins, who was previously a policy aide to the council's vice president, won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council by capturing more than 70 percent of the vote.

'Chief homophobe' defeated

Danica Roem became the first openly transgender woman elected to a state legislature when she defeated Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall, who called himself the state's "chief homophobe" and refused to debate Roem, referring to her with male pronouns.

"Discrimination is a disqualifier," Roem told supporters Tuesday night shortly before she was officially declared the winner.

After serving two terms on the Hoboken City Council, Ravinder Bhalla became the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey, sparking an outpouring of enthusiasm among the estimated 200,000 Sikhs who live in the U.S.

Ravi Bhalla, a city councilman for eight years, was elected the first Sikh mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.
Ravi Bhalla, a city councilman for eight years, was elected the first Sikh mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Bhalla defeated five other candidates in the race that became divisive after fliers appeared with a picture of Bhalla wearing a turban that read, "Don't let TERRORISM take over our town."

Also in New Jersey, Sheila Oliver became the state's first African-American lieutenant governor as the running mate of Governor-elect Phil Murphy, who defeated Republican opponent and current Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno by a wide margin.

Oliver joins Justin Fairfax of Virginia as the country's only two African-American lieutentant governors. Fairfax is the first African-American to be elected to statewide office in Virginia since 1989.

Jenny Durkan gives a thumbs-up to a supporter while taking the stage at an election night party in Seattle, Nov. 7, 2017. Durkan became the first lesbian to be elected as the city's mayor.
Jenny Durkan gives a thumbs-up to a supporter while taking the stage at an election night party in Seattle, Nov. 7, 2017. Durkan became the first lesbian to be elected as the city's mayor.

Seattle firsts

There were two election firsts in Seattle, Washington, where Jenny Durkan was elected as the city's first lesbian mayor and voters selected Zachary DeWolf as Seattle's first openly gay school board member. DeWolf said after his victory he wants to make LGBT students in the city feel like they are accepted and safe.

"I want to show that you can be your whole self," he said.

Women and minorities also won a number of other contests.

Michelle Kaufusi was elected mayor of Provo, Utah, the first time a woman won the position in the city's nearly 160-year history. Kaufusi succeeds Mayor John Curtis, who won the congressional seat that was vacated when Jason Chaffetz resigned in June.

FILE - Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles answers a question during a mayoral candidates debate, Nov. 1, 2017. Lyles bested Kenny Smith on Nov. 7, becoming the next mayor of North Carolina's largest city.
FILE - Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles answers a question during a mayoral candidates debate, Nov. 1, 2017. Lyles bested Kenny Smith on Nov. 7, becoming the next mayor of North Carolina's largest city.

Vi Lyles became the first African-American woman elected mayor in Charlotte, North Carolina, after serving as an at-large City Council member for four years.

In Minnesota, St. Paul City Council member Melvin Carter III was elected as the city's first African-American mayor after winning more than 50 percent of the vote.

"Being able to carry a majority of the first choice votes says to me loud and clear that St. Paul is a city ready for change," Carter told supporters Tuesday night.

In Virginia, Kathy Tran was the first Asian-American elected to the House of Delegates. Eliza Guzman and Hala Ayala were the first Latinas to win seats in the state's legislature.

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