A historic election in Charlottesville has ended with the victory of an African-American woman. The Virginia city named native Nikuyah Walker as its new leader Tuesday night months after white nationalist rallies plunged the area into deadly chaos, The Associated Press reported.
Charlottesville City Council members approved Walker’s appointment by a 4-1 vote. Walker, an outspoken critic of local leaders’ response to the “Unite the Right” rally who was sworn into office as a council member on December 29, has a positive outlook on the new position, largely a part-time job presiding over council meetings. The mom of three, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University, is ready for the new role.
“I never looked at it as, I’m above anyone else … there are just a few additional duties and whatever they are I will figure them out,” Walker, the first independent candidate elected to the council since 1948, said.
Walker, who replaced mayor Mike Signer after calling for his resignation, was one of two new council members elected in November. Heather Hill was selected for vice mayor Tuesday night, according to NBC 29.
The newly elected mayor, who works for Charlottesville Parks and Recreation as well as is a social and racial justice advocate with nonprofit experience, wants to change how City Council meetings are run. Walker spoke about changing the amount of time people are allowed to speak and ensuring everyone is heard during those meetings. She was also candid about the job of mayor being a challenge. She learned a lot from running a campaign, she said, and vowed to keep going and put people first, C-Ville reported.
Dozens of Black folks, including prominent activists and public figures, are supporting Walker all over social media.