21st Century Urban Race Politics: Representing Minorities as Universal Interests: Volume 18


Table of contents

(24 chapters)

Until the 1960s, the only black mayor in the United States was Wesley Liddell (1961–1965) of Mound Bayou, an all black town in Mississippi. In 1966, Robert C. Henry was elected mayor in Springfield, Ohio. He became the first black mayor of a city outside the South. Starting with Carl Stokes of Cleveland (1968–1971), blacks have been elected as mayors in most of the nation’s largest cities. These late 20th century mayors were considered reactions of northerners to the equal opportunity message of the southern Civil Rights Movement. Middle size cities are now joining the trend of elected minority mayors. These remarkable achievements demonstrate how far America has come in the creation of truly open elections. Race, gender, and ethnicity are no longer considered barriers to being elected to the highest municipal office. We have seen several minority individuals elected mayor in minority majority cities as well as predominately white cities. These elections confirm Robert Dahl’s ethnic succession theory, which holds that as cities undergoes demographic change, the new ethnics will assume political leadership. Cities evolved and race/ethnic political leaders stood in queues waiting for their chance to govern.

A strong indication of the reasons behind minority mayors' shift from deracialization can be found in the changes in the U.S. population over the last two decades. The changes in population has eroded – or potentially is in the process of eroding – a key variable in the election of minority mayors: the presence of a majority Black population. For example, with cities losing Black population while gaining Whites and Latinos, the conditions under which Black candidates run for mayor in many U.S. cities are quite different from the experience of the first elected Black mayors. Washington, DC has lost 16% of its Black population since 1990. Between 2000 and 2010, the Black population decreased by 6%. Yet, during the same time period, the district has experienced increases in White population, with a 14% increase since 2000. With a Black population of less than 50% as compared to a Black population over 70% in 1980, the district has enjoyed the distinction of no longer being a majority-Black city (Washington Post, 2007). Atlanta, Georgia also has experienced a loss of Black population (Cox News Service, 2007). These data are suggestive of trends where, if they continue, ambitious Black candidates for mayor will find their electoral coalitions composed of increased numbers of Whites and Latinos in areas where Blacks have dominated for decades.

Purpose – This chapter examines the shift in political leadership from white ethnics and African-Americans to Hispanic/Latino representation in city-wide offices. Specifically, we explore the electoral coalition that Angel Taveras constructed to become Providence, Rhode Island’s first Latino mayor. This victory illustrates the continued strength of Hispanic/Latino political candidates in American politics.Design/method – Using public opinion survey data and a ward-by-ward analysis we provide a detailed breakdown of the type of voter Taveras appealed to and where these individuals reside.Findings – Taveras’s win was anchored in the upper-income, white liberal wards of the city. In addition, he won in the old Irish and Italian wards now inhabited by African-Americans and Hispanic/Latino voters. Overall, the significant growth of the Hispanic/Latino community in Providence from 30 percent in 2000 to 38 percent in 2010 was pivotal to his victory.Originality/value – This chapter provides an in-depth examination of how a Latino candidate won in a Northeastern city that had been dominated by Irish and Italian political leaders. The coalition that Taveras constructed highlights how Latinos appeal to liberal white voters. Finally, Taveras’s victory signals the continued political ascension and strength of the Hispanic/Latino community.

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the growing academic literature on “post-racial” African American leadership by exploring the election and reelection of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Johnson is emblematic of the current generation of young African American leaders: politically moderate, less likely to employ overt racial appeals, and able to assemble a multiethnic political coalition.Design/methodology/approach – This chapter utilizes a combination of semi-structured interviews and multivariate quantitative analysis of an original dataset to reveal both the diversity of the Johnson coalition and the high support for Johnson’s candidacy in Sacramento’s African American community.Findings – Johnson’s case demonstrates the durability of an explicitly moderate, reform-minded, and technocratic coalition and epitomizes the “universalized interest” approach to governance – simultaneously developing strategies to mobilize African American support and formulating public policies to advance group interests while articulating a universalized policy framework.Social implications – On the night that Barack Obama was elected president, Johnson became the first African American, to be elected Mayor of Sacramento. To do so, Johnson assembled a diverse electoral coalition that resembled the Obama coalition. However, this case study demonstrates the unique challenges facing an African American mayor in a majority white city and reveals the continuing importance of race in “post-Obama” urban politics.Originality/value – This chapter utilizes a unique dataset and rigorous methodology for analyzing voting behavior and multiracial coalition formation in American cities. The voter file data analyzed in this study remains an underutilized resource for urban scholars.

Purpose – Cory Booker will likely step down as mayor of Newark in 2014 or 2018. When he does, the possibility of a strong Latino candidate emerging is quite likely. There are a number of black politicians who would like to succeed Booker as well. This chapter identifies eight potential successors to Booker and assesses their ability to create a multiracial electoral coalition using prior vote performance in citywide elections.Design/methodology/approach – This study regresses district (or precinct) level vote preferences for the aforementioned potential successors in previous elections on the racial and ethnic composition of the district, using voter district demographic data from 2000 and 201011The 2010 data is still incomplete at the time of publication. As such, this data will be used sparingly. compiled by the US Census Bureau and the Minnesota Population Center.Findings − There is a decade’s worth of evidence suggesting racially polarized voting among blacks and Latinos in Newark. The racialized black and Latino candidates examined in this chapter had much stronger support in districts with large coethnic populations. In contrast, the more deracialized candidates often had softer support in districts with high concentrations of coethnic voters, but often performed better in districts with higher concentrations of non-coethnics.Originality/value − While the author cautions against reading too much into the findings, the results do portend a future of racially polarized voting in Newark, especially as the city’s population diversifies and as different factions vie for power.

Purpose – The chapter examines the relationship between Black elected officials (as candidates and in office) and the media that covers them by examining how media use race when discussing these officials.Design/methodology/approach – The chapter uses a content analysis design. The basic strategy is to examine eight years’ worth of discussion in newspapers, both in Ohio and nationwide, concerning Mark Mallory as he runs for mayor of Cincinnati and then acts as mayor from 2005 to mid-2012.Findings – The chapter provides information on how the media (mainstream media and Black media) includes racial mentions when discussing Mark Mallory. The findings support my two main hypotheses: that Mark Mallory is more heavily racialized as a mayoral candidate in mainstream newspapers than he is as a sitting mayor, and that for Black newspapers, he is more heavily racialized at either stage (candidate or sitting mayor) than he is with mainstream newspapers.Research limitations/implications – Because the research only looks at one individual, the findings lack generalizability. Therefore, researchers should expand the focus to examine more Black elected officials and/or Black candidates for office.Practical and social implications – The chapter shows how discussions of race around a Black elected official may be beyond that official’s control.Originality/value – This chapter is original in showing how race can be made a part of the public media discussions of minority elected officials. The research design gives us a template for future study of the influence of race in media representations in minority politics.

Purpose – This chapter will explore how Jean Quan was elected as Oakland’s first Asian American and woman mayor and the numerous challenges to lead the city’s governing coalition. Quan sought to build a diverse coalition to run the city. She has devoted her efforts to those in greatest need as she navigates the multiracial and multidynamic politics, and build her administration as progressive, inclusive, and universal.Design – This research uses voting records, U.S. Census data, media accounts, and interviews with local participants to study the research questions for this chapter; how and why did Jean Quan get elected as Mayor, and what has been her approach to leading the city’s governing coalition?Findings – This chapter’s preliminary findings after 18 months in office are that Mayor Quan has stabilized her governing coalition and has gotten back on track to begin to achieve her campaign goals.Research limitations and future research – The major limitation of this chapter’s research is Mayor Quan has been in office only 18 months, which is a short time to study Quan’s governing coalition and whether she will sustain this coalition in the coming years. Future research is needed to study how Quan compares to recent Oakland mayors and to other Asian American local elected leaders of large cities.Impact of research – This research builds upon previous research on Asian Pacific Islander elected officials at the local level and adds to the growing body of research on minority mayors and local elected officials.Value of research – As the United States grows increasingly diverse those who govern its cities have also become more diverse in the 21st century. This research makes an important contribution to the study of a fast growing population APIs and their elected leaders.

Purpose – This chapter offers a unique examination of the influence of a city’s electoral arrangements and political culture on the governing capacity of minority mayors. Highlighting the important roles played by institutional context in shaping the agendas and opportunities for minority mayors enriches the scholarly discussion of descriptive representation.Approach – I employ case study examinations of the three minority mayors elected from the city of Denver, Colorado, focusing prominently on current mayor Michael B. Hancock. I utilize archival data consisting of accounts from local newspaper stories, journal articles, and written recollections from the mayors themselves to evaluate how well three distinct electoral strategies—including a novel strategy, which I have termed as the issue agreement coalition model—aid mayors in advancing the interests of their shared race constituencies. I evaluate these strategies by assessing relevant policy outcomes and economic indicators.Findings – Observational comparisons lead me to conclude that across a variety of issue domains, the issue agreement coalition model provides minority mayors with the greatest capacity to advance their shared race constituencies’ interests, whereas the deracialization model provides the least.Value – This chapter is of value to students of urban politics, particularly those interested in descriptive representation. The novel electoral strategy introduced here provides scholars with a new paradigm allowing for richer evaluations of minority mayoral tenures. Additionally, the focus on the relationship between institutional context and mayoral governing capacity can aid scholars’ understanding of the unique opportunities and limitations facing minority mayors.

Purpose – This chapter examines the electoral coalition and leadership style of Columbus’ Mayor Michael Coleman.Design/methodology/approach – An analysis of State of the City addresses, in-depth interviews, and an analysis of scholarly publications and news stories was conducted.Findings – The first Black mayor of Columbus, Ohio, Michael Coleman was elected by forging an electoral coalition between the city’s majority White and minority Black community. Once in office, Coleman was faced with the challenge of creating a governing coalition that addressed the downtown development interests of his White constituency and the community redevelopment needs of Black residents. While he has favored economic development, Coleman has delivered some noteworthy benefits to the Black community, especially in terms of neighborhood revitalization and community redevelopment. Given the challenge of balancing such divergent interests, Coleman’s accomplishments are noteworthy. Nevertheless, he has been unable to facilitate significant upward mobility of the Black community, and Blacks continue to remain underrepresented in government. This chapter explores the role of racial politics in Coleman’s elections and his policy focus once elected. Attention is also paid to the Coleman administration’s efforts to improve the socioeconomic situation of Blacks. We argue that Coleman’s leadership fits within the “universalized interest approach,” taking advantage of compromises between seemingly polarized parties to produce mutual, if qualified, benefits. In this way, Coleman has placated those with power, ensuring a long tenure as mayor and an extended window of opportunity with which to create change in Columbus.Practical implications – This chapter sheds light on how a minority mayor can come to power in a majority White city today.Originality/value – This is the first analysis of Michael Coleman’s leadership and provides a valuable example of the possibilities and limitations faced by a Black mayor in a majority White city.

Purpose – This chapter examines the campaign, election and governance of Antonio Villaraigosa as Los Angeles’ first Latino mayor in over 130 years. The intersection of electoral coalitions, governing regimes, political incorporation, and deracialized/racialized campaign methods has wide-ranging implications for 21st century urban and racial politics. This study seeks to better understand the high expectations placed upon minority mayors as they develop policies and programs that benefit minorities and others as well.Method – This chapter employs the case study method. A form of qualitative research grounded in theory, scientific in nature, and investigative in approach. The examination of official city documents, archives of local newspapers, exit poll data, and select interviews join to make a rigorous ethnography. The data were complemented by the use of racial politics as a lens through which to interpret results.Findings – This chapter provides empirical insights about the realities of racial politics, the impact of extreme demographic shifts, and the prospects for coalition formation. Governance and resource allocation among minorities by minorities may be the challenge of the 21st century. Deracialized/racialized campaigns and elections make governing a difficult proposition. Even when broad progressive movements are underway (shared ideology) those arrangements seem much more fragile when long-term alliances cannot be forged.Research implications – This chapter applies the case study method. This approach uses the researcher as the primary tool of data collection and employs rigorous methods to avoid bias and ensure accuracy of data. However, because of the chosen approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Hence, we recommend further testing of the research propositions.Practical implications – This chapter posits implications for long-term coalition building and alliance formation among minority voters; the realities of race and representation; and a re-examination of governance style (“racialized” vs. “deracialized”) in municipal government.Originality/value – This chapter intersects urban and racial politics and purports to examine 21st century minority voting behavior and the impact of such behavior upon the policy process (policy responsiveness). Hence, can political incorporation be better achieved with the interests of minorities’ merged (universal interests)?

Purpose – To examine how Black mayors in majority-White cities successfully incorporate the interests of African-Americans into their overall agenda for the city and the said effectiveness of this strategy electorally.Design/methodology/approach – Utilizing data from elite interviews and local newspaper articles, we apply the theory of targeted universalism to the governing approach of Jack Ford.Findings – Mayors of color often come into office with the dual responsibility of being an advocate for their respective racial group and a leader for the city as a whole. Jack Ford, the first African-American to be elected as mayor in Toledo, Ohio, took this challenge on gladly, but with mixed success. We find that Jack Ford used his powers as mayor to improve social conditions for Blacks in Toledo, yet also faced challenges in trying to better their economic opportunities. Moreover, he failed to parlay these particularistic efforts into a second electoral victory. In this case, a targeted universalistic policy approach to advancing Black interests had limited effectiveness. The single mayoral term of Jack Ford suggests that Black executives must walk a fine line between their (assumed or expected) racial empowerment role and their duty to advance the various interests that exist among residents of their city. Hence, we find that in order to have lasting electoral success Black mayors must be acutely aware of what is expected of them by the various constituencies they serve and govern accordingly.Research limitations/implications – Because of the chosen research approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to test the proposed propositions further.Practical implications – The chapter includes implications for the development of an effecting Black mayoral governing strategy wherein the mayor can successfully advocate for the advancement of black interests in majority-White cities with specific policy proposals and programmatic developments.Originality/value – This chapter fulfills an identified need to study the governance of Black mayors in medium-sized cities and their representation of Black interests in the majority White municipal context.

Purpose – We examine electoral politics in the City of Atlanta, GA, and shed light on the prospect that in 2009 Atlanta elected its “last Black mayor.”  We consider how African American tensions around class and social identity may demobilize key constituents of the Black electoral coalition while an increasing Black out-migration and White in-migration had changed the city’s racial balance of electoral power. Recognizing the margin of victory in the 2009 mayoral election between Kasim Reed (an African American) and Mary Norwood (a White challenger) was small (714 votes), we examine how electoral and demographic characteristics explain this result.Methodology – We utilize (1) the 2009 State of Georgia Board of Elections voter demographic file; (2) 2010 Census data (ACS 5 year estimates), and 2009 Mayoral Election count data. We presented descriptive statistics, comparing community level factors and voter characteristics.Research implications – The limitations of this work is that it is exploratory and thus we do not statistically isolate the effects of class and social identity.Findings – Our findings indicate that Reed and other Black elected officials will have to make concerted efforts if they hope to “retain” the Black poor as well as gay and lesbian citizens within a progressive electoral coalition.

Purpose – The African American electorate in Savannah, Georgia, has a history of being managed and manipulated, but over a period of time it reached its full potential. This electorate evolved during the leadership of a white Democratic mayor who manipulated the increased number of black registered voters as a result of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) to maintain white empowerment in a majority black city. This struggle for power proves that national reforms do not always have the immediate consequences that national leaders hoped. This chapter explores how the African American electorate persevered and took advantage of the political mistakes of others to attain its empowerment at the mayoral level. This evolution of political mobilization and empowerment would culminate with the election of the city’s first female African American mayor in 2011.Research design – We conduct a comparative analysis of election results over time.Findings – Federal intervention has been the most powerful and helpful to the African American electorate. However, while the Savannah African American electorate was managed and manipulated, such reforms were implemented in a gradual and limited manner. Hence, the rise of black mayoral power is the result of a lot of lucky political accidents due to a shrewd Democratic mayor who used the 1965 VRA to extend and maintain white empowerment in a majority African American urban city. Thus, national reforms do not always have the immediate consequences that national leaders hoped.

Purpose – The focus of this chapter is to establish a blueprint for effective Black leadership without compromising the interests of other racial and ethnic groups. A uniform approach has not been utilized to accomplish the “dual agenda” of representing majority and minority interests simultaneously, although most of our urban cities now consist of a plurality of Black, Latino, Asian, and Caucasian voters.Design/methodology/approach – Using the city of Buffalo and Mayor Brown as a case study, a content analysis was conducted on Mayor Brown’s upcoming career in politics as well as close coverage of his election and reelection bids. A descriptive analysis was also conducted on the election of first-time Black mayors in order to identify the style of leadership that is appropriate for a particular era.Findings – Some of the findings of this research confirmed that a city’s size, its predominant racial and ethnic makeup, the city’s regional location, the era that they were elected in, their professional experience, and prior elected positions continue to be influential factors in electing Black mayors. In each era however, there was a particular style of leadership that became a necessary element in electing and reelecting a Black mayor.Research limitations/implications – While this research relied mostly on a content analysis of Mayor Brown’s leadership and first-time Black mayors, it would have been better served if an in-depth interview was conducted with Mayor Brown himself. It is imperative for research that seeks to establish a blueprint to speak to the primary agents of that office as well as community leaders for an objective perspective.Practical implications – Aspiring politicians who wish to lead their cities will need to have a consistent plan that speaks to coalition building in order to solidify a diverse base of supporters. Also important is to be able to elect more Black mayors in a particular city that has been exposed to Black mayoral leadership shortly thereafter to build upon previous accomplishments.Originality/value – This chapter fulfills the need to accomplish the “dual agenda” of representing majority and minority interests simultaneously.

Purpose – This chapter evaluates the shift in black voter support from Mayor Adrian Fenty to Mayor Vincent Gray in the 2010 DC mayoral election. The complexities of new black leadership are used as a theoretical framework for understanding the salience of gentrification, crossover racial appeal, campaign tactics, and policy implementation in the mayoral transition from one black candidate to another.Design/methodology/approach – This study used polling data from The Washington Post one month prior to the 2010 DC Democratic primary (The Washington Post, 2010). Using a sample of 630 respondents, multinomial logistic regression was used to measure the extent to which substantive policy positions, racial crossover appeal, and/or personal traits factor into voter preferences.Findings – The results reveal that a combination of personal, racial, and substantive factors contributed to Adrian Fenty’s defeat in 2010. The implications suggest a reexamination of the significance of symbolic representation in voter candidate preferences and the shifting complexity of black leadership in the procurement of black substantive representation.Originality/value – This chapter captures the transitional nature of black leadership in order to distinguish viable strategies for blacks to secure both elected office and black empowerment, while offering a more nuanced approach to analyzing the changing nature of the black voting calculus in the United States.

Given the rise of a new generation of minority political office-holders throughout the United States, many have begun to theorize about the breadth of the deracialization concept. Some scholars have labeled a new generation of Black leaders as post-racial (Gillespie, 2010). Others have chosen the term trans-racial (Morrison, Fair, & Rollins, 2012). Some have argued that the concept first defined by McCormick and Jones in 1993 has been applied too narrowly by scholars (McCormick & Jones, 1993). They have found that a broader definition encompasses the various nuanced “post-deracialization” minority officer-holders elected to various positions in the recent past.

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Research in Race and Ethnic Relations
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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