RICHMOND, Va. -- For the first time in the history of Virginia, women were selected to lead the House of Delegates. Newly-elected Democratic delegates and delegates-elect met downtown Saturday morning at the James Center to choose the party's new leadership.
In a history-making vote, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D - Fairfax) became the first woman to be nominated for Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. In addition to the being the first female Speaker of the House in Virginia history, she will also be the first Jewish politician to hold the seat.
"It has been my great honor to serve as House Democratic Leader in this momentous year, and I am so grateful for the support of my colleagues. I look forward to working with every single member of the House of Delegates, Democrat and Republican, to move Virginia forward," Speaker-designee Filler-Corn said in a statement after the party's vote.
Delegate Charniele Herring (D - Arlington) will be the new Majority Leader. She will be the first woman and the first African American to serve as Majority Leader in the House. She previously served as the Caucus Chair.
"I could not be prouder of our members--both those celebrating re-election and those we are welcoming to the House for the first time. We have a lot of work to do and promises to keep, and I look forward to serving as Majority Leader in the first Democratic-led House in a generation," Leader-elect Herring said.
Delegate Rip Sullivan will serve as the new Caucus Chair.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam celebrated his party's selections.
"Virginia made history again today," Governor Northam said. "We all share a commitment to serving Virginians and advancing a more progressive and inclusive Commonwealth. Together, we will defend the rights of women and minority groups, increase access to a world-class education and health care, fight climate change, and pass commonsense gun safety legislation."
Virginia Republicans voiced some concerns about the new House leaderships.
"Delegate Filler-Corn serving as Virginia’s first female Speaker will be historic. I have always appreciated the mutual respect we have enjoyed in our respective roles, and I am grateful for her willingness to serve and sacrifice as Speaker of the House. Republicans look forward to working with House Democratic leadership to address the concerns of our constituents and continue to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family," House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert (R - Page) said. "“However, Republicans are concerned that House Democrats have chosen to elect an entire leadership team that is centered in the deepest parts of Northern Virginia. The House of Delegates represents our entire Commonwealth, and the varying and often conflicting interests of Northern Virginia, metro Richmond, Hampton Roads, and rural Virginia deserve a fair hearing in our legislative process to meet their unique needs and challenges. Republicans remain hopeful that all parts of our Commonwealth will be heard in the new House of Delegates, and we are eager to work with the new leadership toward these ends."