By Jeffery L. Boney
The year 2018 will be remembered for a number of reasons, especially for the number of African American women who were elected to seats that have traditionally been held by non-Black candidates.
As a result of the midterm elections, Ayanna Pressley defeated a 10-term incumbent to become Massachusetts’ first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jahana Hayes, who was named National Teacher of the Year in 2016, has become Connecticut’s first Black woman in Congress. In the state of Illinois, Lauren Underwood, 31, has become one of the youngest Black candidates ever elected to Congress.
And of course, there were the seventeen Black women who made history in Harris County, Texas, by winning their respective judicial seats.
In June of this year, London Breed made history becoming the first African American woman to be elected mayor of San Francisco. Now in Missouri City, Texas, history has been made again, just before the close of the 2018 calendar year.
Yolanda Ford made history this past Saturday, December 8th, as she defeated longtime incumbent mayor Allen Owen in a runoff election to become Missouri City’s first African American and female mayor.
A runoff election was mandated after Ford and Owen were the top vote-getters in a three-person race for mayor that took place during November’s midterm elections.
This was the first election that was held in November for the mayor’s race, after the Missouri City Council voted to move the elections from May to November in 2016.
Election Day for the runoff was truly the turning point in this race. Owen, who has been the mayor of Missouri City since 1994, held a slight lead after early votes were tabulated, but Ford put forth an impressive showing on Election Day, garnering roughly 63 percent of the vote to overtake Owen and eventually defeat him by a 52 to 48 percent margin.
So after having the same mayor for over 24 years, Missouri City residents have chosen someone new to be Missouri City’s 11th mayor. Ford states that she hopes to move the city forward.
“I am so proud that the residents of Missouri City have elected me as their mayor,” Ford said in a statement. “After having served on the city council for the past five years, and as a lifelong resident, I am deeply invested in the well-being and growth of Missouri City, and I look forward to working with citizens, the city council and others toward its betterment.”
Missouri City is one of the fastest growing and most diverse populations in the United States. As of the 2010 census, Missouri City had a population of 67,358, with 46.1% being African American, 24.9% being White, 16.2% being Asian, and 15.3% being Hispanic.
Ford campaigned on increasing Missouri City’s revenue, focusing on smart development and redevelopment, creating economic opportunity for small business and entrepreneurs and building a more unified community. According to her campaign website, Ford’s vision for Missouri City is for it to become a culturally diverse destination with town centers, restaurants, premier shopping, business centers and much more. She will be tasked with working with her colleagues on Missouri City Council to help make those campaign promises a reality.
Ford is a Missouri City resident, having graduated from John Foster Dulles High School. She went on to earn a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from the culturally diverse destination and a Masters of Architecture degree from Prairie View A & M University.
Prior to being elected mayor, Ford served on Missouri City Council representing District A, and was sworn in to office in July 2013. While on Council, she was elected by her colleagues to serve as Mayor Pro Tem in 2017. Due to the city charter, Ford had to resign in order to run for mayor – a decision that clearly paid off for her.
As a Council Member, Ford was a member of several Missouri City committees that included the Community Development Committee, Communication Committee and Infrastructure Committee. Professionally, she continues to practice as an urban planner/architectural designer/land development specialist. Her professional associations include being an associate member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a member of the American Planning Association (APA) and the National Recreation Parks Association (NRPA).
In the other race held during the Missouri City runoff elections, incumbent Chris Preston defeated challenger Susan Soto to retain his seat as the At-Large 2 Council Member.
Mayor-elect Ford will be sworn in on December 17.
This article originally appeared in the Houston Forward Times.