New Mexico makes history after electing all women of color to its U.S. House of Representatives, while Los Angeles County elected an all-female Board of Supervisors.
In New Mexico, as Democrat Representative Deb Haaland, Republican Yvette Herrell, and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez each won their district races on Tuesday, Bustle reported. The historical moment was especially significant since Native Americans were prevented from participating in elections until the passage of the 1924 citizenship bill. And following the passing of that bill, it still took over forty years for all fifty states to allow Native Americans to vote, according to the Library of Congress.
Haaland, a 35th generation New Mexican, is a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe and became one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in 2018. Before taking office, she was chairwoman of New Mexico’s Democratic Party and a community organizer. She states on her campaign website that she has spent her life advocating for the underrepresented, advancing progressive values, and getting Democrats elected up and down the ballot.
“I believe that New Mexico deserves a champion who stands up for all of us, and I would be honored to be that voice,” Haaland said.
Haaland, a single mother who was raised in a military family, said on her campaign website that she has a long history of service to Democratic candidates and progressive causes. She is the first Native American woman in the country to chair a state party and a recognized leader in tribal business and services communities.
Herrell prevailed in what was described as a razor-sharp win in a bitter primary, beating Democratic incumbent Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. Herell returns the 2nd District to Republican control. This week’s win was a rematch of their 2018 race, in which Herrell lost the 2018 congressional race by fewer than 4,000 votes and, flipping the open seat, which had been historically red. This year, the seat was considered one of the Democrats' most vulnerable, The New York Times reported. Prior to her congressional runs, Herrell served in New Mexico’s state legislature. She is a member of the Cherokee Nation, but told the Times she did not want the focus of her campaign on her Native American ancestry, but instead on her experience.
Herrell states on her campaign website that she is a champion for New Mexico’s hardworking middle class, puts people before politics, champions for small businesses and represents the rural values in Santa Fe.
Leger Fernandez outran Republican Alexis Johnson and took the House District 3 seat to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján as he runs for U.S. Senate. Fernandez is the first woman to hold this seat since its creation in 1983, in a district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 2-1, which overlaps portions of the Navajo Nation and includes other Native American communities, KRQE reported.
On her campaign website, she states: “Service to New Mexico runs deep in my blood.”
A mother of three sons, she is a career attorney for tribal sovereignty and an advocate for Hispanic cultural expression. During the Clinton administration, she was a White House fellow, and was later appointed to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation by President Barack Obama.
Another monument milestone taking place this week is the election of Sen. Holly Mitchell for the board’s second district winning by a wide margin against Herb Wesson for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Wesson was termed out of his seat.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will now all consist of women, each of whom comes with a different background in politics and government, a precedented moment in its 150-year history. For more than a decade, men nicknamed the “five little kings” ruled, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The L.A. County’s Board of Supervisors is considered the most powerful local governmental body in the country, reported the Times. The board oversees the county’s $35 billion budget, and the largest jail system in the country, and one of the largest public health infrastructures.
Mitchell grew up in Los Angeles and was the former Chief Executive of the Children and Family Services Organization Crystal Stairs. She said she couldn’t have imagined when she started working for then-state Senator Diane Watson in her early 20s, that she’d end up making history on the Board of Supervisors, the news outlet reported.
Janice Hahn, a politician and member on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from the 4th district since 2016, whose father Kenneth Hahn held the second district seat for 40 years, and was one of the most well-known supervisors in the country, told the Times that her father had all-female administrative support staff when she spoke about how different county culture was back in those days from how it is now. She was enjoying celebrating Mitchell's win.
"We've once again broken a glass ceiling right here in Los Angeles County," she said.