2017 Statewide Elections: Hope For Progressive Politics in the Time of Trump

Almost a year after the shocking election of Donald Trump as the United States President, Democrats, and especially minority Democrats, made it their mission to lead their states, making 2017 the biggest landslide for groundbreaking elections of state legislators. Among the winners, a few notable ones are Danica Roem, Wilmot Collins, Michelle De La Isla, and Ravi Bhalla.

In Virginia, Danica Roem, a transgender woman and a former reporter won against Republican incumbent, Bob Marshall. Roem made headlines early on in her race to legislation due to her gender identity. Marshall, Roem’s main opponent, played a key role in the passing of Virginia’s bathroom bill, putting it into law that each person had to use a restroom that aligned with their anatomical sex. However, even though Roem identifi es as transgender, she did not let this stop her. She plans on making her community more open about LGBT+ issues and concerns, and she is making a historical leap in becoming the fi rst openly trans person in state legislation. While in offi ce, Roem plans on tackling traffi c congestion, medicaid expansion, and pay increases for teachers.

Also, in Montana, Liberian refugee, Wilmot Collins made waves by being a face for refugees in a country tainted with inexcusable blame and hatred. In Montana, Collins faithfully fi red back against his residents, educating the community that refugees are not terrorists and that they are fully human people. Collins took the mayor seat of Helena from a 16 year incumbent, making him the second known Black person to take on this role.

Further, in Topeka, Kansas, single mother of three, Michelle De La Isla became the mayor. Being born in New York City and raised in Puerto Rico, De La Isla transformed each of her struggles into an advantage. Having much experiences in hardships, De La Isla plans on bringing light to the rural downtown niches and counsel the other minorities in her community.

In addition, in Hoboken, New Jersey, Ravi Bhalla became the state’s first Sikh mayor. This is groundbreaking for New Jersey and the rest of the country, for Bhalla is just one of a limited number of Sikh mayors of the United States. Though he was a favorite candidate from the start, Bhalla still faced criticism from some of Hoboken’s residents. As a Sikh, Bhalla wears a turban to respect his faith, and some residents took offense to that. Bhalla responded to the criticism by believing that his city was capable of rising against hatred and fear of difference. The people backing him believes that his win is a direct backlash to the ideology of the Trump administration and his campaign before election.

With each of these candidates came a big surprise to their residents. Many are still in shock over the election of Trump just last year. However, even though that conservative ideology won on a federal level, the small victories on the state level are essential to keep in mind. It is vital for diversity to be seen throughout every democracy, for we are not all rich white men, or in other words, the average politician. These outstanding people with progressive ideas are setting the stage for our future and our children’s’ future– a future filled with equality through diversity and seeing the normalcy of a minority in federal and local offices.

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