While the midterm elections were disappointing for a number of high-profile Black candidates, including Stacey Abrams and Val Demings, there were important victories in other races. Notably, 2022 added to the growing list of major American cities led by Black men and women. As a result of this latest election, five of America’s ten largest cities will soon have Black mayors. Here is a look at them.
Eric Adams, New York City
Since taking office in December 2021, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has made quite a splash with his brash tactics and unfiltered comments as he leads America’s largest city. Some of his stances have drawn criticism, particularly in his efforts to tackle crime in the city. Adams, a career police official, has received criticism for his closeness to the NYDP and their handling of crises such as the April subway shooting. These include his opposition to drill music, in which he claimed the genre promoted violence. Less seriously, Adams’ swagger-heavy persona even earned him a hilarious spoof on Saturday Night Live.
Karen Bass, Los Angeles
Karen Bass, who has represented California in Congress since, will soon join the list of prominent Black mayor now that she has won the race for Mayor of Los Angeles. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Bass is “the first woman and second Black Angeleno elected to lead the city in its 241-year history.” In order to do so, she defeated businessman Rick Caruso, who poured $100 million of his own fortune into his campaign.
Bass, who was also Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019 and 2020 and took a leading role in shaping the congressional response to the murders of George Floyd and others in 2020. Bass will now be bringing her experiences to her home of LA; she has announced that tackling the city’s homelessness crisis and engaging in police reform are among her top priorities for Los Angeles.
Lori Lightfoot, Chicago
The issues that Mayor-elect Bass plans to tackle are among the same challenges that have faced Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot since she took office in 2019. Mayor Lightfoot has had to deal with rising violent crime rates which reflect concentrated areas of danger and racial inequalities in the city. These problems have been exacerbated by various issues of police brutality and misconduct. All this has led Mayor Lightfoot to try out alternative strategies like new police training and employing non-police first responders to calls concerning mental health crises. She has also initiated cash payments and other benefits to assist Chicagoans facing economic crises. With these challenges, Mayor Lightfoot faces a challenging election next year, but she remains confident that she will be selected to continue to lead the nation’s third-largest city.
Sylvester Turner, Houston
The longest-serving mayor on this list, Sylvester Turner has led Houston since 2016. Turner has led the city through challenges, such as the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, after which the mayor received criticism for not evacuating the city. honored several local superstars, including Beyoncé, Megan Thee Stallion and Scarface. And unbeknownst to his colleagues and supporters, Turner conducted his official duties even while battling bone cancer earlier this year. With term limits preventing him from running again, Turner is preparing to pass the city’s leadership on to new hands. In the meantime, he continues to rep Houston, as he did at the city’s Thanksgiving Day Parade alongside 50 Cent and Bun B.
Today, I participated in the #Thanksgiving parade. It was a fantastic event with a great representation of our city, from Mayor @SylvesterTurner, to A-list artists like Curtis @50Cent Jackson & Bernard ‘Bun B’ Freeman, first responders, the #Texans cheerleaders, and even #elves! pic.twitter.com/VjxEKhgxz5
— Harris County District Clerk (@hcdcburgess) November 24, 2022
Eric Johnson, Dallas
Also in the great state of Texas, Eric Johnson has been mayor of Dallas since 2019. The mayor recently declared that “Dallas is back” during his annual state of the city address. This proclamation was meant to highlight billions of dollars in construction and infrastructure projects being conducted within the city or lined up or the near future. Johnson also pointed to a decrease in violent crime in the city, which the mayor attributed to increased funding for police and other first responders as he rejected calls to “defund the police.” Nevertheless, Dallas remains one of many major cities dealing with growing homelessness among other challenges. But even with such remaining challenges, Johnson is confident in his bid to win reelection next year.
This cohort represents a sampling of the Black leaders who have shaped many of America’s leading cities over the past several years. While some may be nearing the end of their service, others are just beginning to create their impact.