For 24 hours now, I’ve been reflecting on the meaning of the 2020 elections. A friend texted me this sentiment, and it resonated: “There’s no one day when we win. There are days when we make more or less progress”.
After all the votes are counted on Tuesday, we made historic progress on multiple levels.
I feel confident that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next President and Vice President. Our first woman, and woman of color, Vice President. That is historic progress.
And in Tennessee, WTF has reason to celebrate.
This year, we endorsed 22 women who ran for State Senate, State House, City Council and Alderman. Of those 22 pro-choice candidates, 6 were elected.
Senator-Elect Heidi Campbell flipped a State Senate seat from red to blue for the first time in 15 years. She is the first woman to represent Senate District 20 and she flipped the last GOP-held seat in Davidson County. From Planning Commission to Mayor to the State Senate. This is what bench building looks like. She’ll join Senator Sara Kyle, who was easily reelected.
Representative Gloria Johnson was reelected in Knoxville with 52% of the vote. She represents a challenging swing district, and defending our incumbents is critical to our ability to make more progress in Tennessee.
In Maryville, Councilwoman-elect Sarah Herron became the first woman EVER elected to serve on the Maryville City Council. That is historic progress. She won her race by 348 votes, demonstrating that every vote counts in the down ballot races. In Clarksville, Councilwoman-elect Karen Reynolds was elected to the City Council in Ward 9. There is 30 years of data on their Election Commission website, and there is no record of a woman serving in Ward 9. More history made. And finally, early this year Tullahoma Alderman Robin Dunn was re-elected. Of the five Aldermen in Tullahoma, two are now WTF-elected officials.
WTF was founded in Nashville by a committed group of women who wanted to impact the local, city races. Over the last 8 years, we took that model and grew it statewide. As we look to the future, we will continue our resolve to build the bench on the local level across Tennessee. This is how we make more progress.
And finally, WTF thanks all of our 16 women who were on the ballot this year, but were not elected. It takes bravery and endless hours of hard work to run for office and WTF is proud to have supported these fantastic candidates.
Thank you for running, Jane George, Civil Miller-Watkins, Elizabeth Rowland, Virginia Couch, Susan Sneed, Mariah Phillips, Carol Abney, Elizabeth Madeira, Jenn Foley, Andrea Bond Johnson, Jerri Green, Dominique Primer, Gabby Salinas, Ashli Shockley, Margaret Thompson and Melissa Eldridge.
Finally, I received this text this morning from one of our candidates: “I didn’t win, but I learned a lot. Thank you for all of your help. I swore I was never going to do this again but too many neighbors have reached out in support for “next time”. After you have rested, let’s start planning. I have 4 years to shake it up.”
Let’s all rest up, because tomorrow we are getting back to work. WTF must continue to be a resource for pro-choice women candidates who run for office at all levels of government, but particularly on the local level. It’s bench building season and I will see you out on the field.
We thank you for your generous support. These are milestones we share with you because your support helped make them happen. And with your help, we will continue to #ElectWTFWomen in 2021, 2022, and beyond.
With hope and gratitude,
Executive Director, Women for Tennessee’s Future