By Kyler Sumter and Caroline Hitesman
BU News Service
DORCHESTER — Many voters left Uphams’ Crossing polling location Tuesday feeling empowered about voting for Ayanna Pressley, Liz Miranda, and Rachael Rollins — three African American women who they believe will shake things up in their elected offices.
“Women will run the world,” said Isaura Mendes, a 67-year-old Democrat and 55-year resident of Dorchester.
On the ticket this year were the first black woman who will represent Massachusetts in Congress, the first black woman to win the Democratic nomination for Suffolk County District Attorney, and a first-time candidate who won a huge upset for the Democratic nomination for the 5th Suffolk District by winning all precincts in the district and defeating her three male opponents.
All three won in the midterms, with Pressley and Miranda running unopposed.
Mendes said she hopes to see changes in gun violence and specifically hopes Rollins won’t prosecute petty crimes as the DA. Mendes said she has lost two of her sons and four of her nephews to gun violence.
“We need to make our streets better,” Mendes said. “We need our kids to be comforted that nothing bad will happen to them.”
The Uphams’ Crossing polling station at 530 Columbia Rd. saw a consistent stream of voters in the early afternoon, despite the rain. Voters proudly donned their “I Voted” stickers as they exited the polls and most said they voted for Pressley, Miranda and Rollins.
Most said they were pleasantly surprised by the momentum the three black women had gained and they believe the success of female candidates has been a long time coming.
Crystal Gandrud, 76, Democrat, said she thought it was amazing to see three women of color on the ballot.
“Women have not been represented ever,” Gandrud said. “The fact that we have women on the ballot running for office is amazing. I voted for all of them. You go, girl.”
Mendes echoed sentiments of other voters regarding Pressley, Miranda and Rollins.
“A man has been in charge all this time,” she said. “It’s time we have three powerful women making decisions.”
Robin Allsop, a 60-year-old Democrat, said he was stunned by Pressley’s upset in the primaries given the nation’s current political state.
“It is a little surprising about Ayanna Pressley since so much crap has been allowed in Washington,” Allsop said. “But I think people are starting to realize that their vote does count and they don’t want to see this idiot destroy the country.”
History-making candidates can be found around the country this election season, too. Stacey Abrams, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Andrew Gillum are just three of the 216 people of color who ran in the gubernatorial, House, and Senate races, according to the New York Times. And of the 964 candidates running this year, 272 are women.
Ocasio-Cortez made history as the youngest woman elected to congress. Sharice Davids, elected in Kansas, and Deb Haaland, elected in New Mexico, became the first Native-American women elected to Congress. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota’s first Somali-American legislator, along with Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, are now the first Muslim women in Congress and Omar also became the first woman of color to represent Minnesota.
In Connecticut, Jahana Hayes became the first African-American woman from the state elected to Congress. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are the first Hispanic women to represent Texas in the House. Gillum lost his race to become Florida’s first African-American governor while the results are still pending for Abrams race to become Georgia’s first African-American female governor.
In total, more than 100 women were elected to Congress, a record number in the House.
CNN exit polls showed that 80 percent of voters said, “It’s very or somewhat important that more women be elected to public office and almost half said it’s very important.” Meanwhile, 80 percent of African American voters and two-thirds of white voters said, “It’s important to elect more minorities.”
Dorchester residents could see that energy in Miranda, Pressley and Rollins’ campaigns, with Pressley specifically laying out her plans to work on impeaching the president.
Gandrud repeated a statement repeated by voters throughout the day, “Women will run the world.”
Story published via a special arrangement with the Bay State Banner.