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London district elects first black woman as its mayor

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Brenda Dacres has made history by becoming the first black woman to win a directly-elected mayoral role in the United Kingdom.

She won with a final count of 21,575 votes, after securing 51.5 percentage of the total votes in yesterday’s election which saw a turnout of 20.74 percent.

BBC reports that the by-election was held after the previous mayor Damien Egan quit to run to become an MP in Bristol. Green Party candidate Michael Herron came second with 6,835 votes.

Dacres said she hoped her election would be an example that young people from ethnic minority backgrounds could follow.

She told BBC London that housing was a “massive priority”, including the building of new homes and ensuring existing houses were “up to scratch”.

The Liberal Democrats came third in the ballot with 4,896 votes followed by the Conservatives on 3,784.

Lewisham has long been a Labour stronghold, and so the party were expected to win this by-election.

In her acceptance speech to the audience of mainly Labour activists, gathered in a school hall the early hours of Friday morning, she spoke of how when her parents first came to the UK “as part of the Windrush generation” that they never could have imagined that their daughter would become “the first black woman directly elected mayor”.

Later she told me that she hoped she could become “a role model” and “an inspiration” to young people in Lewisham, 25% of whom come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

The low turnout was perhaps not unexpected in a standalone by-election, but it feeds into the criticism that some opponents had made before this vote, about it being a waste of council taxpayers money. It is understood the election cost £635,000 to run.

 

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