Renewing Democracy: Register of Wills – Tracey Gordon
In two out of the last three presidential election cycles – 2008 & 2012 – Black women voted at rates (68.1 percent and 70.1 percent, respectively) higher than any other racial demographic group of people according to the Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics study titled “Gender Differences in Voter Turnout.” And while those rates precipitously dropped in 2016 – down to 63.7 percent, according to that same report – they were still among the highest of the major demographic groups. The Center for American Progress’ report “Women of Color: A Collective Powerhouse in the U.S. Electorate” shows even higher rates of eligible Black women voters casting ballots in 2008 (74 percent) and 2012 (75 percent) compared to 2016 (just 66 percent). Yet, in major Congressional midterm elections in 2018, Black women voter turnout “surged … from 41 percent to 57 percent,” a full 16 percentage points compared to the last midterm of 2014.
“So for citywide executive officers in 2014 there was only one black woman elected and serving as a mayor of a major top-100 city. We now have seven from ’14 to ’18, so that is a steady gain in a place where there is opportunities” said Glynda Carr, during during a Washington Post Live Stream event entitled A New Era of Women in Politics. Carr is the co-founder of Higher Heights, an organization whose mission is to empower Black women to vote, run, win and lead – and responsible for catapulting a wave of successful local, state and federal Black women candidates. Now here in Philadelphia we are seeing a new upward trend of Black women running for office and winning their elections more than ever before on a local and state level.
However, what is more impressive is that most of the Black women running are doing so … on their very first try! This prompted us to examine this trend with our series called Black Women Who Lead Philadelphia. The goal in this series is to answer the how, what and why these Black women ran and won. Key questions arise: is this just a localized trend in Philadelphia? Or: could this be the beginning of a national shift in local politics?
The first person in this series we sat down with was Tracey Gordon. Tracey Gordon ran for the Office of Register of Wills against the incumbent Register of Wills who had the office for 40 years Ron Donatucci. In a stunning upset, Donatucci (who was Register of Wills for 40 years) received 40 percent of the vote while Gordon outperformed him with 44 percent of the vote to handily win
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