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Election 2017 a better reflection

Posted: November 9, 2017 3:14 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2017 1:00 a.m.

There were no votes to be cast Tuesday here in Kershaw County, S.C. Nonetheless, looking at the outcome of Election 2017 across the country affords everyone -- including those of us here at home -- a chance to gauge the direction America is taking.

I, for one, think Election 2017 is a better, truer reflection of our country’s ideals and values, and affords a better legacy for future generations than Election Day a year ago.

Vox.com posted an interesting article that, essentially, listed some historic firsts from across the country. One of them is from right here in South Carolina: the election of Brendon Barber as Georgetown’s first African-American mayor.

According to The Huffington Post, Barber has been a city councilman there in Georgetown since 1998. Charleston’s Live 5 News, a CBS affiliate, reported that Barber won 1,411 votes, nearly 61 percent, while fellow County Councilman Ron Charlton earned 898 votes or just a little less than 39 percent of the vote.

Up the road from us in Charlotte, N.C., voters in that city elected their first African-American female mayor, Vi Lyles, who previously served as a budget official and then assistant city manager.

Vox reported that the state of Virginia (a place I know a little about) had a bunch of “firsts.” Democrat Danica Roem became the state’s first transgender lawmaker, beating out an incumbent Republican lawmaker who drafted a “bathroom bill.” Democrat Dawn Adams became the first openly lesbian person elected to the Va. House of Delegates. Voters elected the state’s first-ever Latina delegates, Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, while Kathy Tran became the first female Asian-American delegate.

Other “firsts” from Vox:

• Andrea Jenkins -- first openly transgender woman of color in America to be elected to public office, winning a seat on the Minneapolis City Council.

• Melvin Carter -- first African-American mayor of St. Paul, Minn.

• Wilmot Collins -- first black mayor for Helena, Mont., who happens to be a refugee from Liberia’s 1990s civil war.

• Ravinder Bhalla -- first Sikh mayor of Hoboken, N.J., a two-term city councilman, attorney and civil rights activist.

• Joyce Craig -- first female mayor for Manchester, N.H.

• Shoshanna Kelly -- first woman of color elected to be a Nashua, N.H., city alderman.

• Michelle De La Isla -- first Hispanic woman and only second woman ever to be elected as mayor in Topeka, Kan.

• Lisa Middleton -- first transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California will sit on Palm Springs City Council.

• Tyler Titus -- first transgender person elected to office in the state of Pennsylvania, will take a seat on the Erie, Pa., school board.

• Jenny Durkan -- first openly lesbian mayor of Seattle.

• Mary Parham-Copeland -- first female African-American mayor of Milledgeville, Ga.

• Jonathan McCollar and Booker Gainor -- first African-American mayors of Statesboro and Cairo, in Georgia.

• Cathy Murillo -- first Hispanic mayor for Santa Barbara, Calif.

Some pundits, including those on Vox, which is (even to my eyes) skewed left, are touting these “firsts” as repudiation of not only President Donald Trump, his policies and behavior, but of the Republican Party, too.

It’s not hard to see why. Let’s go back to Virginia. Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam beat Republican Ed Gillespie to become Virginia’s next governor. What is particularly interesting about that outcome is the way Trump handled the news.

Several news outlets reported a tweet he made Tuesday night which, effectively, threw Gillespie under the bus. “Ed Gillespie worked hard, but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump tweeted. It was almost sadly funny, especially considering how nasty Gillespie’s campaign was in my mind.

And get this one: Democrat Phil Murphy ran for governor of New Jersey on a platform of legalizing marijuana for recreational use by those 21 and older. He won, beating Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, 1.12 million votes (55.4 percent) to 859,000 (42.5 percent).

Let’s go further up the coast to Maine. The state legislature there had been trying for ages to expand Medicaid, but kept getting knocked down by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Proponents finally went over his head and directly to Maine voters. A ballot question to opt into Medicaid expansion overwhelmingly won approval, and may help an estimated 80,000 more Maine residents to get health insurance.

Voters are tired of Trumpism. Most Americans know this country stands for inclusion and decided to say so by being more open-armed, open minded and welcoming at the polls to people different from themselves.

Now that’s America.

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