The Process of Minority Incorporation in Local Politics and Government
Despite the fact that more than nine in ten black elected officials represent local rather than federal or state government, the study of minority representation in American local politics and elections has been a relatively unexplored area of inquiry. In this paper take an historical approach and examine the processes of black office-seeking and office-holding in local government. Our study relies on data compiled by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Research and the Southern Regional Council's Voter Education Project as well as Louisiana State Secretary of State election returns and candidate characteristics collected by the Local Elections in America Project (Marschall and Shah 2010). In the first set of analyses, we examine trends in the number and distribution of African American candidates and elected officials across office levels and types so that we can better understand: (1) where African -Americans have made the most progress, (2) what patterns might exist across offices, and (3) where we see little or no progress in black office-holding in Louisiana. From here we conduct a multivariate analysis to understand how the election of black council members in Louisiana occurred over time. Using event history analysis, we examine how municipal electoral arrangements and other institutional factors, as well as the socio-economic and racial context of cities shape the timing of the initial election of a black candidate for city council. This analysis spans the period immediately following passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, when the first African Americans won elected office since Reconstruction, up until 2010.