LGBTQ Fil-Ams make strides in electoral politics, reporting historic outcomes in an era of diverse leadership
THOUGH all eyes are on the contentious presidential race that continues to be too close to call, several statewide and local races have already been officially counted, giving voters a clearer picture of how diverse candidates fared in one of the most crucial elections in American history.
As of press time, results in many precincts across the country have not been called due to expected delays in counting ballots, but some races involving Filipino American candidates have been counted.
As reported in the Asian Journal last week, a record number of Filipino American candidates ran for office this election, signaling a push for diversity in American leadership across all offices.
In San Diego, Filipino American mayoral candidate Todd Gloria — a current California state assemblymember — took an early lead in a race that, as of press time, is still close as the votes are still being tallied.
As of early Wednesday morning, Gloria — who would be the first person of color and first openly gay mayor of San Diego (the second-largest city in California) — holds a 56% lead over challenger Barbara Bry.
“Tonight, San Diego, because of you, we are poised to make history,” Gloria, a Democrat, said hours after the polls closed on Tuesday night. “While there are still votes to be counted, I believe that tonight is a night to celebrate.”
Elsewhere in California, first-time candidate for the state assembly Godfrey Santos Plata narrowly lost his bid for District 53, garnering 43.4% (31,785 votes) of the vote to incumbent Miguel Santiago’s 56.5% (41,401). Both Plata and Santiago were running as Democrats.
Plata, a progressive organizer and public education advocate, still hopes for a chance after the ballots have all been officially counted by the end of the month.
“#LA is counting ballots until November 27th, but I am still [so] excited by these results, y’all. We are building so much power,” Plata tweeted on Tuesday night.
Rep. Bobby Scott, the Democratic incumbent from Virginia’s 3rd congressional district, sailed to re-election with 67.6% of the votes against Republican challenger John Collick.
“We have a lot of work to do in the weeks and months ahead to heal our nation, defeat this pandemic, provide additional economic support to working families, small businesses and schools, and rebuild our economy so that everyone can succeed,” Scott, whose maternal grandfather was of Filipino ancestry, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
In one of the most-watched races in the United States House of Representatives, Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones once again narrowly lost her bid for Texas’ 23rd congressional district. Republican Tony Gonzalez claimed victory in the vacant seat left by Rep. Will Hurd.
Jones, a U.S. Army veteran who would’ve made history as the first openly gay woman of color in Congress, garnered 47% of the vote to Gonzales’ 51% in a district that is heavily Latino-populated.
“I want to thank each and every grassroots supporter, volunteer, and member of my staff who poured their heart into our campaign,” Jones wrote in a Twitter thread on Wednesday morning. “I am so proud of the race we ran, and it is our shared commitment to fighting for working families in South and West Texas that continues to give me hope.”
Though she didn’t indicate whether or not she would run again, Jones (who is Filipina on her mother’s side) added that “I will always remain dedicated to serving our country and my community in any way I can. I hope TX-23 is represented with all of her constituents in mind, and in a way in which she deserves.”
In another congressional race, Democratic incumbent Filipino American Rep. TJ Cox of California’s 21st Congressional District currently trails by three percentage points behind Republican challenger and former U.S. Rep. David Valadao.
As of press time, only 71% of votes have been reported, according to the Associated Press.
In Georgia, Filipino American civil rights attorney Marvin Lim, 35, made history by becoming the first Filipino American to win a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives in the state’s 99th District.
Lim, who ran unopposed, becomes the sixth openly LGBTQ member of the state legislature.
In Wake County, North Carolina, Maria Cervania was elected to serve as county commissioner for the 3rd district. She becomes the first Asian American and Pacific Islander elected to the Board of Commissioners and the first Fil-Am elected to office in North Carolina.
In Maplewood, Minnesota, a city outside of Saint Paul, Nikki Villavicencio is likely to garner a seat on the city council. Villavicencio — a disability rights advocate and community organizer who was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis — has garnered 28.6% of the vote with all precincts reporting.
In Utah, the incumbent GOP state Attorney General Sean Reyes won re-election in a narrow race against the Democratic challenger Greg Skordas. Reyes has held the post since 2013, and he focused on sex predators, street drugs, school violence and youth suicide and cybercrime in his re-election campaign.
“Regardless of party or ideology, our state and nation are stronger when more of us educate ourselves on candidates and issues and participate in elections. It is exciting to see,” Reyes said in a statement released on Tuesday night. “No matter the outcome, hopefully we can remember those things that unite us as Utahns and Americans. And when all the ballots are counted, I look forward to serving four more years as attorney general, protecting Utah and all who live in this great state.”