History made as majority-women SB Common Council will be seated in January

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) --- Voters made their opinions known Tuesday, casting ballots to elect (and reelect) five women to the South Bend Common Council.

The newcomers include Democrats Lori K. Hamann and Rachel Tomas Morgan, both of whom won at-large bids. Fellow Democrat Sheila Niezgodski won the 6th District seat.

"It was a good feeling, knowing that the residents of the 6th District put that trust in you to be their representative," said Niezgodski, a U.S. Army veteran who served during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Tomas Morgan emigrated to the United States from the Philippines when she was 2 years old.

"My family was able to succeed in that climate where people wanted to help us and help my family succeed, and that's a vision of America that I want to make available for everybody," remarked Tomas Morgan, who works at the University of Notre Dame.

Hamann's husband, Mike, is the St. Joseph County auditor. But Lori, a high school teacher, says it's always been her goal to serve the public.

"I studied political science back in the '80s with the intention of going into office," Hamann said. "And then I started a family. [Our youngest son] has autism, and it became very clear very early in his life that I needed to be home."

All of the newly elected female council members agree the landmark majority-women council is important -- but for different reasons.

"I think it's a good time for people in the community to recognize women have the abilities, the skills. They can step up, run for office and win. They all had to get there on their own merit," Niezgodski explained.

For Tomas Morgan, the distinction is evidence of widespread support.

"Not only did we have strong women working on our campaigns, working for us but, as we know, it's important for women leaders to have strong men advocating for us," Tomas Morgan said. "I certainly had that, as did the other candidates."

Niezgodski's husband, David, is an Indiana state senator. However, she said she was inspired to run for office when community members encouraged her to pursue the seat after Oliver Davis ran for mayor in the May primary election.

Democrats Karen White and Sharon McBride were reelected to the at-large and 3rd District seats, respectively, on Tuesday.