Election Day brings increased representation

While Election Day 2017 was all about electing leaders in municipalities around the United States, it was also a time to usher in what may be a new era of increased representation in American politics.

According to The Hill, Andrea Jenkins — a city council candidate in Minneapolis — became “the first openly transgender woman of color elected to public office in the United States” when she won the vote on Nov. 7.

Jenkins, who ran as a Democrat, campaigned on hot-button issues such as affordable housing and raising the minimum wage, says The Hill, with the newly-elected council member previously serving as a policy aide to council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden.

But Jenkins wasn’t the only one to break down barriers this Election Day. CBS News reports that in Virginia, transgender woman Danica Roem “unseated one of Virginia’s longest serving and most socially conservative lawmakers,” making history as “the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature.”

The Democrat and former newspaper reporter not only made history, CBS News says Roem scored an additional victory on election night — defeating the candidate Del. Bob Marshall, who “sponsored a bill this year that would have restricted the bathrooms transgender people can use.”

With diversity in people, practice and though making their way into local governments everywhere, perhaps the theme of this year’s election is best summed up by Roem herself:

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you’re qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table.”

 

Voting en vogue

With Election Day traditionally on a Tuesday, it can be difficult to sneak away from work to head out to the polls. But one major fashion brand is taking steps to make sure that its employees participate in what is shaping up to be one of the most unconventional elections in American history.

According to Glamour, Tory Burch announced in an essay she wrote for the Wall Street Journal that she is giving her employees time off on Election Day — and she’s hoping other businesses will follow suit.

“As the CEO of a company, I can ensure that our employees have one less impediment to voting—time off to vote,” she wrote, says Glamour. “We are giving our employees time off on Election Day, Nov. 8, and we are making voter registration materials and information available. We call on our fellow corporate citizens to do the same.”

Pointing out that American voter turnout was at 53.6 percent in 2012, Burch’s piece cites studies indicating that such low turnout actually benefits career politicians, meanwhile efforts “including making Election Day a national holiday so that the very people whose lives are most affected by what goes on in Washington, D.C., and their state capitals can participate in their democracy without fear of losing ground” have failed to take hold.

Thus, Glamour says the CEO offered that the only way to open the door to the polls for working Americans is through the purview of their employers.

“It is rare that a CEO gets to make a decision that is as black and white as this one,” she wrote, according to Glamour. “Giving employees time off on Election Day will not only facilitate their participation in our democratic system—a net win for all of us—it will also foster a culture in which the importance of voting is recognized and celebrated.”

You heard her — now let’s get out there and vote.