Voters making strides in electing more diverse leadership as governors and in Congress

Posted 2 January 2023 at 4:40 pm


America is rebuilding after 40 years of crumbling; economic fairness, infrastructure, business regulations, civil rights, basic social safety net, international cooperation are being restored.

Record numbers of women recently elected to office, brings the total number of women to take office in January in Congress to 124, 28.5% of the total. The total of women in the U.S. Senate is 25, or 25% of the total.

Women still make up just over a quarter of representation despite being 50.5% of the US population. Alaska elected the first indigenous person and first woman. The crawl towards proportional representation has always been slow, but progress continues.

Women turned out to protect their right to healthcare in the election. They turned to women governors who made protecting abortion care central to their re-election campaigns. A record number of twelve women governors were elected for 2023.

New York elected our first woman governor, Kathy Hochul. Voters in Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Oregon also elected new woman governors. Incumbent female governors in Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico, Michigan and South Dakota were re-elected.

Until now there have been only 45 women governors in our history, and only 9 in office at one time. Some stepped into their governor positions after their male predecessors resigned in disgrace. Only New Mexico elected a Latina woman governor; voters have not yet elected a black woman governor.

The new governors in Massachusetts and Oregon are openly lesbian. The number of elected women Democrats has climbed over the past 30 years while the number of elected women Republicans has barely budged. Women have gained a seat at the table, however not all the women elected will be good for the survival of democracy.

Minority representation remains low at the national level, but increased at the municipal level. A record eight black women will serve as mayors of the nation’s 100 largest cities. These include Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, St. Louis, Washington, DC, and Charlotte. Our four largest cities in America—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston—will all be led by black mayors.

Gen Z (born since ’97) and Millennials (born between ’81-’97) are waking-up, stepping-up to vote and moving into leadership roles as senior leader’s step down. The new generation of more ethnically diverse Democrats expect government to do more to solve problems and center on issues like climate, racial equality, healthcare and childcare.

The expansion of our political representation, reflecting the many different people in our diverse democracy can only be a good thing unless one is reliant on the good-old-boy culture.  One’s gender, sexual identity, race or ethnicity should be irrelevant, but we’re not there yet.

Carol Nochajski