Democratic Women Making Waves in Local Elections
Updated: Sep 21
It’s time to move the needle forward on the number of women in local government. Governors, mayors, district attorneys, city council members, and county commissioners are responsible for making palpable decisions that affect the lives of women, families, and minority communities. But, these offices tend to have paltry female representation.
Currently, women hold just 25% of seats in state legislatures and 24% of state executive positions (1). County and city governments have even lower rates of representation: a 2014 study found that women hold only 14.4% of local management positions (2).
2019 marked a significant milestone: a record number of women were elected to Congress. This year, it’s crucial that this energy expands to include enthusiasm for voting at the local level. Here are just a few of the progressive women running for state and local offices this November.
Mayor ~ Richmond, Virginia
“Every Richmond resident deserves an affordable place to call home in a safe, thriving community. Due to the racial bias of Jim Crow laws, we have neighborhoods that were designed to fail. Intentional policy choices created concentrated poverty, inadequate infrastructure, underperforming schools and an environment that lowers health outcomes. All of this adds up to generations of wealth inequality based on your zip code” (3).
Currently the Virginia state director for Care in Action, the policy and advocacy home for women domestic workers, Alexsis has devoted her career to fighting for economic security, voting rights, college affordability, and quality health care. This year, she led the way in making Virginia the first southern state to pass protections for domestic workers. In her former role as the Director of Communications at the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, she played a key role in achieving Medicaid expansion and increasing birth control access. As Mayor, Alexsis will focus on Environmental Justice, ensuring accessibility to green space in low income neighborhoods, increasing tree canopy, and making Richmond a leader in clean energy. She is also committed to equitable housing and lifting redlining-era housing regulation (4).
Though a mayor may develop and propose policies, her main job is to carry out directives from city council and implement policies adopted by city council. Mayoral responsibilities and legislative powers vary depending on the form of government, but typically, a mayor’s role is largely administrative as opposed to legislative (5).
Commissioner ~ Hennepin County, Minnesota, District 1
After a summer of unrest in Minneapolis - precipitated by the murder of George Floyd - De’Vonna Pittman in running for County Commissioner to reduce disparities, increase opportunities, and make sure everyone has a chance to thrive. “We need to delve deeper into the root causes of dysfunction in these police departments, and if that involves taking apart large pieces of a dysfunctional system and putting them back together again in a different way, then I am in favor of that approach,” states Pittman (6).
A co-founder of the Minnesota Black Authors Expo, De’Vonna is committed to reducing educational inequalities and stimulating income. She has served for 17 years in community-oriented roles in Hennepin County, including on public works projects and in the Department of Corrections, where she has used her voice to fight for marginalized communities (7).
A County Commissioner’s role is to review and adapt county budget programs, authorize the collection of county-wide property taxes, oversee the county personnel system, adopt ordinances for the enforcement of county wide actions, and establish plans for county services and programs. County Commissioners represent constituent concerns before school boards, city councils, township boards, and state and federal offices (8).
Governor ~ Missouri
A certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner, Nicole Galloway has a passion for rooting out fraud and corruption. She formerly served as Boone county Treasurer and currently serves as Missouri State Auditor. A champion of working families, she is currently the only Democrat serving in a Missouri statewide office (9).
Nicole is running to expand economic opportunity for working Missourians and fight back against the fraud that comes at their expense. She plans to expand Medicaid, ensure a quality education for all children, train workers for a changing economy, and bring in businesses to offer more jobs. Her campaign is powered by grassroots donations, and yet continues to outraise Incumbent Governor Mike Parsons (10).
Governors serve as the chief executive officers of the state. They are responsible for implementing state laws and overseeing the operations of the state executive branch (state executive agencies include transportation, social services, departments of education, departments of forestry, and state police). Governors appoint agency heads, state court judges. The scope of gubernatorial powers varies by state (11).
State’s Attorney ~ Cook County, Illinois
The first African American woman to lead Cook County’s state’s attorney’s office, Kim Foxx is committed to righting the wrongs within the criminal justice system that disproportionately affect communities of color. “It is critical that we continue to work collaboratively with our law enforcement, community, and justice partners at the city and county for a fair and equitable criminal justice system and will continue to do so - as we seek justice for victims and their families while holding the drivers of violence in our communities accountable,” states Kim (12).
During her first term as Cook County State Attorney, she has distinguished herself as a leader in bond reform, prioritized resources away from low-level offenses, and played a vital role in passing legislation to legalize marijuana (13).
A State’s Attorney (or District Attorney) represents the state government in criminal cases brought in a designated county or judicial district. Decides whether to bring criminal charges against arrested people and prosecutes cases in court (14).
Texas House - District 138
"The most important qualities in a state legislator are proven commitment fighting on the ground for what you say you will fight for in the Capitol, passionate conviction, and integrity- in how you run, win and legislate” (15).
Akilah Bacy is running to represent Texas’s 138th District to the Texas House of Representatives. Akilah currently serves as an assistant district attorney while also serving her community as a pro bono immigration attorney for children seeking asylum in the United States. She is running to ensure that Texas is accountable for the wellbeing of every working family and child in the educational system. She plans to ensure quality academic support, resources, and safety measures in schools. Further, she is determined to structure a public option for healthcare coverage, pushing back against the fact that Texas has the lowest uninsured rate in the country (16).
State House Representatives serve specific congressional districts within a state. They introduce and support state laws and amendments and serve as political spokespeople for their districts (17).