ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — People of color made history this week by winning municipal races in places their families were once ignored or prevented from voting, including a New Mexico mayor whose father was forced into a Japanese internment camp during World War II.
From Arizona to Massachusetts, the gains highlight the ongoing demographic changes in the nation but also the growing political power of black, Latino and Native American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Ken Miyagishima’s election Tuesday to a fourth term as mayor of Las Cruces, New Mexico, will extend his distinction as one of the longest-serving Asian Americans in history to lead a U.S. city. His re-election came more than 75 years after FBI agents rounded up family members including his father, Mike Miyagishima, and forced them into the internment camp in Poston, Arizona.
“I know my father was proud of me, because I was proud of him,” Miyagishima told The Associated Press after his first election since his dad died last year.
In Tucson, Arizona, voters elected Regina Romero, the daughter of farmworkers, as the first Latina mayor in the city’s history. Political newcomer Frank Whitfield, a former CEO of Lorain County Urban League, was elected the first black mayor of Elyria, Ohio. And in Reading, Pennsylvania, the state’s fifth-most populous city, Democrat Eddie Moran declared victory Tuesday in a municipality where almost two-thirds of the residents are Latino.