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Tassie York - Neptune Mayor

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As 2024 begins, more Black mayors have emerged on the local political scene.

This month Rev. Tassie York took office as Neptune, New Jersey’s first Black woman to be mayor in town history.

According to the Asbury Park Press, the 63-year-old, handpicked by her fellow Township Committee members, won her first Township Committee election in 2021 after being involved in town politics for two decades.

As mayor, York plans to address the town’s redevelopment of portions of the community, tackle parking problems, and champion police involvement among residents. 

“I am grateful to my colleagues for having that trust in me, having the confidence to know what I am all about,” York told APP. “I am in this for the people, not for the fame or fortune. I don’t need my name in lights, I just want to make sure I am doing what is right for the town.”

York is one of 18 children and the first in her family to earn a double master’s degree. She also works as a family specialist for the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Before she became a staple in Neptune politics, she worked as a local hairdresser. York eventually earned her two master’s degrees from Kean University.

The Neptune native also told APP the reason she got into politics was to give her community a voice. 

“The driving force was my concern for my community,” York said. “It didn’t seem like we had a voice or the people who represented us really weren’t representing us. I got into politics because of that because I wanted to make sure that my people had a voice. My people is my community, not just the Black people.”

She continued, “The street I live on is the same street I grew up on. I could live anywhere, but I like this neighborhood because I love my community. There were Blacks, whites, Mexicans, everybody, but we were family.”

Deborah Deb Whitfield

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On Jan 1., Deborah “Deb” Whitfield took office as the first Black and first woman mayor in the city of Lawerence, Indiana.

According to IndyStar, Whitfield was elected by voters in Lawrence, Marion County’s largest excluded city, replacing Republican mayor Steve Collier who served two terms in office. In a closely contested race, Whitfield beat her opponent by just five points.  

I feel humble, because now Black and brown children, women, people of color, can see what a woman my age, because I’m 70 years old, can achieve,” Whitfield told IndyStar. “I’m honored.”

Deborah Whitfield, who wasn’t even planning on running for officer, ran her campaign on ushering in a new era of public safety and higher-paying jobs in the city of Lawrence. 

“I ran my campaign because I saw the need for someone to have a strong voice and that was willing to step up,” Whitfield said. “Sometimes it’s sad that in 2023, you have to be the first African-American, Black, of anything. For a person of color to be the first of anything.”

Whitfield and her late husband moved to Lawrence almost 30 years ago and raised their children in Lawrence Township schools, according to her bio. She has worked her entire career for Community Health Network, first as a respiratory therapist and currently as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She has an extensive record of expanding services and care to diverse populations across Marion County.

“Breaking barriers is what I’ve done my whole life, being 40 years in health care,” Whitfield told IndyStar. “The most important thing is that you have to understand being a person of color: we always have to overcome challenges. We always have to be the best that we can be. And we always have to be on point.”

To celebrate these victories, here are Black Mayors who have made historic strides and a lasting impact in their community.

MORE: Black Candidates Make History As Democrats Win Big On Election Night

1. Yasmine-Imani McMorrin

Yasmine-Imani McMorrin

On December 11, Yasmine-Imani McMorrin was elected Mayor of Culver City, making her the first Black woman to hold the position and the sixth woman in the City’s 106-year history.

McMorrin served as a City Council Member in 2020 and spent the last year as the City Council’s Vice Mayor. She also served as Vice Chair of the Culver City General Plan Advisory Committee.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to continue to serve Culver City in this capacity as its newest, historic Mayor,” Mayor McMorrin said. “As only the 6th woman – and first Black woman – councilmember this moment is not lost on me, and I thank my colleagues for their vote of confidence to lead us through the next year with them and Vice-Mayor O’Brien. In these extraordinary times, our city requires steady, focused, and forward-thinking policies that advance our communities, businesses, and protect those who need us the most. I look forward to tackling the challenges ahead and boosting our successes as we work to build a more prosperous and inclusive Culver City.”

McMorrin will begin her journey as mayor at the next scheduled City Council meeting on January 8, 2024.

2. Cyril Jefferson

Cyril Jefferson high point Source:Twitter

In High Point, North Carolina Cyril Jefferson defeated his opponent Victor Jones, becoming the city’s first Black male mayor, the youngest mayor, and only the second mayor of color in the city’s history.

According to WFMY, Jefferson received 1,000 more votes than Jones and will take the place of sitting Mayor Jay Wagner who declared he would not seek reelection.

Before running for Mayor, Jefferson was a member of the High Point City Council, overseeing Ward 1 of the city.

“I want to make it clear that when we talk about High Point all of you in this room have heard me and many of us up here say that High Point is so much stronger when we work together as one,” Jefferson told his supporters.

Jefferson plans to begin his term by focusing on job growth, improving housing options, and helping the community unite around common goals.

“I feel government plays a critical role in making sure we have a strong local economy, safe neighborhood, and prioritizing the concerns of our residents. Frankly what we’ve heard from our residents when we listen to them is that issues regarding housing, transportation, and infrastructure,” Jefferson said throughout this campaign.  “Other issues regarding mental health as well as continuing to do more to support our youth and education are things that we’re putting at the forefront.”

After his victory he addressed his supporters, expressing gratitude for his historical win.

3. Cherelle Parker

Celebrity Sightings In Philadelphia - May 22, 2023 Source:Getty

The city of Philadelphia has elected a new mayor and made history doing so.

After a long evening of voting in Philly, Democrat Cherelle Parker was elected to be the city’s next mayor, making her the first Black woman and first female to ever hold the office.

Parker, who is a former member of the Philadelphia City Council, won her election over Republican candidate David Oh by a pretty wide margin, keeping the streak of Democratic mayors in the city of Philadelphia alive and well. The city hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1952.

Parker has spent the majority of her career in politics. She was a Democratic representative in the Pennsylvania State House from 2005 until 2015, when she was elected to the Philadelphia City Council.

During her election for mayor, Parker ran on community and public safety, as she vowed to restore the “village” that raised her.

“I’m uniquely prepared to make the city the safest, cleanest, greenest big city in the nation with access to economic opportunity for all,” she said.

4. Paul Young

Paul Young Source:youngformemphis

The city of Memphis, Tennessee has elected a new mayor.

After a hectic evening of voting in Memphis, Paul Young claims victory as the city’s next Mayor of Memphis.

Young ran against 16 other candidates in Memphis’ first mayoral election since 1971 which did not feature an incumbent running for re-election.

“I believe in our city. I believe in Memphis. I believe in every one of you,” Young said during his victory speech Thursday night. “Whether you’re in this room or watching on TV. I believe that we can be better. In fact, I know that we’re going to be better.”

He continued, “We only wrote one speech because we believe we are going to be victorious., and what people will hear from me is a unifying message. The same message we have communicated throughout this campaign that Memphis is stronger together. All parts of our city no matter what your background is, orientation, partisanship, we are all team Memphis.”

Young was also congratulated by current Memphis mayor Jim Strickland, who’s held the mayor’s office since 2016.

Congratulations Paul Young! Your many years of public service will benefit you at city hall,” Strickland said. “I look forward to working with you and your team as you prepare to become mayor on January 1.”

Paul Young is no stranger to Memphis. He is currently the president and CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission and before serving in that role he was director of the City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development and administrator of the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development.

Memphis’ Mayoral race also consisted of Van Turner — the former commissioner of Shelby County and a civil rights attorney — who currently leads the Memphis chapter of the NAACP. Turner served as the commissioner from 2014 to 2022. 

“I’m running for mayor because I want the same thing that I have and want for my family that I want for your family,” Turner told Action News 5 in August. “I have a proven track record of getting the tough jobs done.”

Throughout his campaign, the politician had been an outspoken voice in the fight to crack down on crime and to create safer communities in Memphis.

He shared a similar ethos to former Memphis Mayor Dr. Willie Wilbert Herenton. In February, the Democrat announced that he would be running for Mayor again. The 83-year-old was elected Mayor in 1991 and served five consecutive terms under the role. 

When asked why he joined the heated race, Herenton – who was also interviewed by Action News 5 in August — said he saw “an urgent need for leadership” after the death of Tyre Nichols, the young motorist who was fatally beaten by a group of Memphis officers.

“When I looked at these candidates, I did not see a single candidate for mayor that I felt as a citizen — and as a former Mayor — that they could take this city out of its state of crisis and give it the leadership it needs.”

Democrat Michelle McKissack tried to make history, becoming the first female Mayor of Memphis.  

McKissack — a lifelong Memphian and a member of the Memphis-Shelby County school board district — hoped to bring the city of Memphis together to address some of the longstanding issues negatively impacting the city.

“The City of Memphis, the county government. You have the public sector and the private sector. Everyone’s kind of working in silos and not really having that communication to work together so that we can pull on the sources and be most impactful,” McKissack told ABC 24 in July.

She hoped to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in Memphis thrive.

“We need to invest more in entrepreneurs, into small businesses because they are the driving engines in the communities,” the politician added. “To give them some of those same sorts of tax breaks that the large corporate entities are getting to help our downtown flourish and other companies.”

Throughout history, the contributions and achievements of African-American officials in public service cannot be overstated. Over the last decade, there has been a rise in Black Mayors across the nation – all of whom have been dedicated to creating social and political change in their respective cities. These remarkable leaders have not only shattered glass ceilings but have also dedicated their lives to the betterment of their communities.

New Memphis mayor Paul Young will have his hands full with a city that has struggled with crime and violence. Hopefully with the help of other candidates, young can achieve many of the dreams and aspirations each candidate brought to the table.


5. Sylvester Turner

AIDS Walk Houston - Rock The Walk Source:Sanerica D.

Sylvester Turner was elected in 2015 and re-elected by an overwhelming majority in 2019. As the city’s 62nd mayor, he has demonstrated strong leadership through his commitment to disaster recovery, public safety and improving the quality of life for Houston’s diverse residents.

Mayor Turner’s career is a testament to his dedication to public service. In his final year as Houston’s leader, Turner vowed to strive for “execution and implementation” with his plans to improve the city. 

6. Karen Bass

Karen Bass at the Media Solutions Summit. Source:Getty

Elected in 2020, Karen Bass is the 43rd Mayor of Los Angeles and the first woman and second African American to be elected as the city’s chief executive.

Housing and community safety have been a top priority for the Mayor since she took office. Before landing her historic role, Bass was a representative of the Los Angeles State Assembly where she served as Speaker. She became the first American American woman to ever lead a state legislative body in the U.S. 


7. Eric Adams

Ball Test - Times Square New Year's Eve 2023 Celebration Source:Getty

Mayor Adams became the Mayor of New York City in 2022. Before taking the coveted seat, the powerful politician served as an NYPD officer and a State Senator. He was also the Brooklyn Borough President. 

8. Ras Baraka

Al Sharpton's National Action Network Hosts Its National Convention In New York Source:Getty

Ras Baraka became the Mayor of Newark in July 2014. His current term will end in June 2026. 

Baraka was a dedicated member of the Newark City Council before landing his role as Newark’s longtime Mayor. He represented the South Ward from 2010 to 2014. Between 2002 and 2005, Baraka served as Deputy Mayor of Newark under former Mayor Sharp James.


9. Jaylen Smith

Legal Defense Fund's National Equal Justice Awards Dinner Source:Getty

Jaylen Smith made history in 2022 when he became the youngest politician to win a Mayoral race. Smith was 18 when he was elected to become the Mayor of Earle, Arkansas.  The shining political star beat his opponent Nemi Matthews Sr. with a vote of 218 to 139.


10. Andre Dickens

38th Annual Atlanta UNCF Mayor's Masked Ball Source:Getty

Andre Dickens — a native of Atlanta —  became the Mayor of his hometown in 2022. The passionate politician has been focused on bringing equity and public safety to the Big Peach. 


11. Brandon Scott

28 Injured, 2 Killed In Mass Shooting At Baltimore Block Party Source:Getty

Democrat Brandon Scott was elected Mayor of Baltimore in 202o. Scott had strong political ties to the city before taking on the big role. He served on the Baltimore City Council as president from 2019 to 2020. He was also a representative of District 2 on the city council from 2011 to 2019.

12. Muriel Bowser

new dc police chief Source:Getty

Muriel Bowser was elected to serve as the Mayor of Washington D.C. in 2015. She was re-elected in 2022 after winning the general election. Before becoming Mayor, Bowser served as a representative of Ward 4 on the Washington D.C. council from 2007 to 2015. 


13. Frank Scott Jr.

Little Rock Arkansas Skyline Source:Getty

Frank Scott Jr. has been the Mayor of Little Rock since 2019. The longtime public servant was a member of the Little Rock Port Authority board of directors from 2011 to 2017 and on the Arkansas State Highway Commission from 2013 to 2017.

14. Brandon Johnson

Inter Miami CF v Chicago Fire FC Source:Getty

Brandon Johnson is the Mayor of Chicago. He assumed office on May 15, 2023. With a background in youth development programming, education and management, Johnson brings a wealth of experience to his new role.

Before taking office, Johnson was a teacher with the Chicago Public School system and was also a member of the Chicago Teacher’s Union.