When all the ballots were tallied on Friday, St. Paul, Minnesota, voters had done something remarkable: They had elected the first all-female council in the city’s history.
According to the Star Tribune, the incoming council is historic for its youth and racial diversity, too. All seven members are younger than 40, and six are women of color. The City Council has not seen this much change at one time since the 1990s.
It only makes sense that city leaders look like the people they serve. The makeup of the new council reflects demographic shifts in St. Paul’s population. About half of the city’s residents are nonwhite and the median age is 34, according to 2020 Census Bureau demographics, well below the metro-area median.
“This is a huge milestone, but it’s not just about the fact that we’re all women,” said Cheniqua Johnson, incoming Seventh ward council member. “We are experienced. We love and care about our city. And we have garnered the trust of our communities throughout the entire city of St. Paul. That’s what we heard at the ballot box.”
All seven council seats were on the ballot this year; four of the seats opened when incumbents didn’t seek re-election. The new council represents across-the-board wins for the progressive bloc of candidates.
Friday night, the seven new members announced their priorities, including rent stabilization; investing in community safety programs that interrupt cycles of violence; and building climate resilience by modernizing street, bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
This isn’t the only first for Minnesota voters. According to MPR News, about 55,000 felons cast their votes for the first time since the new Restore the Vote law, passed in June, restored their voting rights.
Black folks celebrated nationwide victories this election cycle, including a few other notable firsts. Cherelle Parker became the first woman and first Black woman to become Philadelphia’s mayor. In Rhode Island, Gabe Amo became the first Black person to represent the state in Congress. In New York City, Exonerated Five member Yusef Salaam went from being wrongfully convicted to a city council member.
To quote song lyrics: It’s about damn time.
Kendra Lee is a writer based outside Washington, D.C.