Closing The Gap

Meet Ghazala Hashmi, the first Muslim woman elected to Virginia's state Senate

Virginia State Sen-elect, Ghazala Hashmi speaks to supporters at a Democratic victory party in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.
Steve Helber | AP

Former community college professor Ghazala Hashmi just became the first Muslim woman elected to Virginia's state Senate.

Hashmi, a Democrat who ran for public office for the first time, unseated Republican state Sen. Glen Sturtevant on Tuesday to represent the state's 10th Senate District.

In a series of tweets sent out Tuesday night, Hashmi thanked her supporters for the win and said, "This victory is not mine alone. It belongs to all of you who believed that we need to make progressive change here in Virginia."

As a child, Hashmi immigrated from India to the U.S. with her family, reports The Hill. According to her campaign website, she was raised in a small town in Georgia where she "saw firsthand how community-building and open dialogue can bridge cultural and socioeconomic divisions."

In 1991, Hashmi, who earned a bachelor's degree from Georgia Southern University and a PhD from Emory University, moved to Richmond, Virginia with her husband. For the past 25 years, she's devoted her career to being an educator in the state. Before winning her election, she served as the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Reynolds Community College in Richmond.

The wife and mom of two ran her campaign with a focus on education, healthcare, gun violence prevention, environmental protection and workforce development. In her newly-appointed role, she says she plans to focus on establishing a paid family leave and medical leave program in Virginia that "will provide security for workers who need to temporarily take time away to care for themselves or a loved one."

As a representative of the state's 10th Senate District, Hashmi will oversee Richmond, Powhatan County and parts of Chesterfield County in Virginia. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Hashmi and Sturtevant's race was among the most competitive in the state, with more than $1.5 million in media buys including TV advertising. Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 24, the two public officials also received more than $1.1 million each in contributions.

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