Looking over yesterday’s election results, there were all kinds of firsts, but one that stood out for me was the story of Wilmot Collins.
A couple of decades ago, Collins was a refugee from Liberia when he arrived in the United States. In time, he became a member of the U. S. Naval Reserves, served as an adjunct instructor at Helena College, became a child-protection specialist, and as of yesterday, he’s the newly elected mayor of Montana’s capital city.
Wilmot Collins will be Helena’s new mayor, unseating incumbent Jim Smith in a close race Tuesday.
Collins, 54, will be the city’s first new mayor in 16 years after running a long campaign based in progressive principles.
He’ll be the first black mayor of any city in the history of Montana, and he was elected in a city where the African-American population is less than 1%, according to the 2010 census.
And when it came to breakthrough victories, Collins’ win was one of many.
It was tough to keep up with all of the firsts, but the Huffington Post did a nice job highlighting many of them, including Virginia’s Danica Roem (D), who’ll soon be the first transgender American to serve in a state legislature; Minneapolis’ Andrea Jenkins, who’s poised to become the first openly transgender African-American woman elected to the city council of a major U.S. city; Virginia’s Justin Fairfax, who’ll be the commonwealth’s first African-American lieutenant governor; and Sheila Oliver, who was elected New Jersey’s first female African-American lieutenant governor.
The list doesn’t stop there. Seattle elected its first lesbian mayor; St. Paul elected its first African-American mayor; Charlotte elected its first female African-American mayor; Manchester elected its first woman mayor; and Hoboken elected its first Sikh-American mayor
If Election Day 2016 seemed like a step backwards for America’s embrace of diversity, yesterday was clearly the opposite.