On Tuesday, the results came in, and Ferguson elected two black candidates to City Council. The wins are significant for the Missouri town since black members now hold half of its six council seats for the first time in history. In the first vote since last year's shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, black candidate Wesley Bell was elected in Ward 3 (where Brown was shot), while Ella Jones was elected in Ward 1 as the first black woman to sit on the Council. The elections of Bell and Jones signify a major shift for Ferguson, a town still reeling from months-long protests against racial bias and police brutality.
The disproportionately white representation in Ferguson's government caused activists to vocally encourage black community members to turn out to the polls and vote. USA Today reports two-thirds of Ferguson's 21,000 residents are black. Nearly 30 percent of eligible voters cast 3,700 ballots, more than double the number of people that turned out for city's mayoral elections last April.
Sitting council member Dwayne James, who is black, was not up for re-election. The trio of seats held by Bell, Jones, and James indicate the city may soon be free of the racial divides that have long plagued its streets. The new City Council will hire Ferguson's next city manager, who will then choose a new police chief as well as manage the city budget that was found to be overly reliant on fines from poor and black drivers, the Los Angeles Times reports. In its investigation into Brown's death, the U.S. Justice Department last month determined there was a pattern of bias in Ferguson police and throughout its judicial system when engaging with black residents.
In Ward 2, voters elected former mayor Brian Fletcher, who is white. Fletcher beat out Bob Hudgins, a white candidate who participated in the city's police protests and had the support of prominent black activists. Mayor James Knowles, who is also white and was not up for re-election, sits on the City Council as well.
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