Jamaican-born Winsome Sears Becomes First Female Lieutenant Gov in Virginia

Sheri-Kae McLeod

Winsome Sears is not only Virginia's first female Lieutenant Governor but also the first woman of color to win any statewide election in Virginia.

The Jamaican-born Marine Corps veteran made history on Tuesday night after defeating Democratic challenger Hala Ayala for the post. As of Wednesday morning, Sears led by a two-point margin with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

In front of a crowd of supporters on election night, Sears made mention of her Jamaican heritage and said that her ascension to the second-highest office in the state represents the American dream.

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“What you are looking at is the American dream,” she said with her husband Terrance and two of her three children behind her.

“When my father came to this country on August 11, 1963, he came at the height of the civil rights movement from Jamaica. He came here with just $1.75 and worked any job he could find and started his American dream. When he came and got me at 6 years old, and when I landed at JKF, I landed in a new world,” she added.

The 57-year-old Sears emigrated from Jamaica as a child and grew up in the Bronx, New York. She majored in English and minored in economics at Old Dominion University, and holds a master’s from Regent University.

She then served as an electrician in the United States Marines. “I am not even a first-generation American. When I joined the Marines, I was still a Jamaican. But this country had done so much for me that I was willing to die for this country,” she said.

Earlier this year, she beat out five competitors to become the Republican Party’s choice for the position.

Winsome Sears, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2004, previously served on the Virginia Board of Education. She was also appointed to the US Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee by former US President George W Bush. She served as a Marine pilot before running for office.

In her speech, Sears also emphasized the racial unity of America.

“There are people who want to divide us and we must not let that happen. They would like us to believe we are still in 1963, but that is not the case. We can live where we can, we can eat where we want. We have had a Black President elected twice and here I am, living proof that we have progressed,” she said to a roaring crowd.

The winner of the election as lieutenant governor is seen as the top pick for Virginia governor. Winsome Sears says she wants to be the first Black female governor in the United States.