Eddie Moran FaceTimes with his mother in Puerto Rico after winning the race for Reading mayor during a party Tuesday, November 5. Picture: Lauren A. Little/Reading Eagle via AP.
Eddie Moran FaceTimes with his mother in Puerto Rico after winning the race for Reading mayor during a party Tuesday, November 5. Picture: Lauren A. Little/Reading Eagle via AP.
In this 2007 file photo, Las Cruces Mayoral candidate Ken Miyagishima discusses the unofficial poll results with his father. AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News, Shari Vialpando.
In this 2007 file photo, Las Cruces Mayoral candidate Ken Miyagishima discusses the unofficial poll results with his father. AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News, Shari Vialpando.
Mayor-elect Regina Romero, left, and council member-elect Lane Santa Cruz embrace during an election night party at Hotel Congress in Arizona. Picture: Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star via AP.
Mayor-elect Regina Romero, left, and council member-elect Lane Santa Cruz embrace during an election night party at Hotel Congress in Arizona. Picture: Kelly Presnell/Arizona Daily Star via AP.

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO - People of color made history this week by winning municipal races in places their families were once ignored or prevented from voting, including a New Mexico mayor whose father was forced into a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

From Arizona to Massachusetts, the gains highlight the ongoing demographic changes in the nation but also the growing political power of black, Latino and Native American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Ken Miyagishima's election Tuesday to a fourth term as mayor of Las Cruces, New Mexico, will extend his distinction as one of the longest-serving Asian Americans in history to lead a US city. His re-election came more than 75 years after FBI agents rounded up family members including his father, Mike Miyagishima, and forced them into the internment camp in Poston, Arizona.

"I know my father was proud of me, because I was proud of him," Miyagishima told The Associated Press after his first election since his dad died last year.

In Tucson, Arizona, voters elected Regina Romero, the daughter of farmworkers, as the first Latina mayor in the city's history. Political newcomer Frank Whitfield, a former CEO of Lorain County Urban League, was elected the first black mayor of Elyria, Ohio. And in Reading, Pennsylvania, the state's fifth-most populous city, Democrat Eddie Moran declared victory Tuesday in a municipality where almost two-thirds of the residents are Latino.

"Tonight, we become pioneers, and by standing on the shoulders of others before me, we are setting a new path forward for Latino leadership for decades to come," Moran

Voters in Boston, the site nearly 50 years ago of the nation's most violent race riots over busing,

Sylvester Turner, Houston's second black mayor, won the plurality of votes and appeared to be heading into a runoff against Tony Buzbee, a candidate who has raised money for Republican Donald Trump. Brad "Scarface" Jordan, a former member of the Geto Boys hip-hop group, also appeared to be headed to a City Council runoff against Carolyn Evans-Shabazz, the granddaughter of the first president of the historically black college, Prairie View A&M University.

Matt A. Barreto, a political science and Chicano studies professor at UCLA, said the victories are a result of new grassroots campaigns that focus on local races. "These campaigns are being led by people of color and younger people," Barreto said. "And we are seeing the effects of these more diverse voices."

Barreto said the often overlook local races were important because they set up a "bench" for future candidates seeking higher offices. "These folks are tomorrow's state legislator, governors and members of Congress," he said.

The gains nationwide came a month after voters in Montgomery, Alabama, elected Steven Reed as the city's first black mayor. Montgomery had been known as the cradle of the Confederacy and home to some of the key events and leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

AP