MINISTER of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange is congratulating Jamaican-born Winsome Earle-Sears, the first woman to be elected lieutenant governor in the Virginia State Legislature in the United States.
Earle-Sears was sworn in January 17. She won the Republican Party nomination for lieutenant governor of Virginia on May 11, 2021.
“I am very proud of Winsome, who is not just the first woman to be elected as lieutenant governor of Virginia, but is the first black woman and the first person of Jamaican origin to be elected statewide.
“As gender minister I am always excited about the achievements of our phenomenal Jamaican women, both at home and in the Diaspora,” Grange said.
History-making Earle-Sears began her tenure presiding over the Virginia Senate last Monday as the state's first woman to serve as lieutenant governor and the first black woman to hold statewide office.
“This indeed is an historic moment,” said Senator Mark Obenshain, who gave a speech welcoming the presiding officer, who will be referred to as madam president. A standing ovation followed from members of both parties and guests in the gallery.
Earle-Sears, a former member of the state House who last year returned from a nearly 20-year absence from elected office to win the election, did not give lengthy prepared remarks.
She acknowledged her husband, a daughter, a staffer, and a family friend who were visiting in the gallery and tweeted that it was “a privilege to serve the people of the Commonwealth”.
A Marine veteran who immigrated to the United States from Jamaica as a child, Earle-Sears defeated Democrat Hala Ayala last year to become only the second woman in Virginia's long history to serve in a statewide office. Attorney General Mary Sue Terry, who was elected in 1985, was the first.
A staunch conservative who speaks frequently about her Christian faith, Earle-Sears has made history as a woman in politics before.
She got her start in elected office in 2001 when she stunned both parties by defeating a 10-term Democrat in an overwhelmingly blue district to become the first black Republican woman elected to the House of Delegates.
She served just one term before deciding not to seek re-election.