Cities across US elect their first Black mayors

Cities across US elect their first Black mayors
© Associated Press/Keith Srakocic

Cities across the United States elected their first Black mayors in elections on Tuesday.

Black candidates in Pittsburgh, Kansas City and St. Petersburg, Fla., rose to victory on Tuesday while making history as the cities' first Black mayors.

Pittsburgh elected state Rep. Ed Gainey (D) by a large margin, defeating Republican Tony Moreno. Gainey also beat fellow Democrat Mayor Bill Peduto in the May primary. 

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Gainey said he decided to run for office after the 2020 death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a police officer, sparking racial justice protests around the country.

“I was thinking this is the greatest time to build a bridge between yesterday and today, the greatest time to talk about why we need to be diverse, why we need to keep our real estate affordable and why we need to be safe,” Gainey had told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Kansas City elected former deputy police chief Tyrone Garner, defeating the one-term incumbent Mayor David Alvey (R), local station KCUR reported

In the final unofficial result, Garner had 51 percent of the vote and his opponent had 49 percent.

Garner said he was urged to run by others in the community, defeating five rivals in a primary back in August. 

"I want to thank Wyandotte County," he said after his victory. "You all really stepped up because you wanted to see change."

In St. Petersburg, they elected their first Black mayor in the city’s 118-year history with Ken Welch, WFTS Tampa Bay reported

Unofficial results show Welch won 60.48 percent of the vote with his opponent, Robert Blackmon, winning 39.52 percent. 

“It is my distinct honor to be the first African-American mayor of my hometown, but let me clear in stating that making history has never been the priority of this campaign nor will it be the focus of my administration,” Welch said. 

During his campaign, Welch focused on inclusivity, saying the election “must be followed by a purposeful agenda of opportunity, accountability and intentional equity for our entire community.”

Along with mayors, Virginia on Tuesday elected Winsome Sears (R) as the first woman and first Black woman to serve as lieutenant governor of the state.