firsts
June 3, 2020

Ella Jones made history on Tuesday night, becoming the first black mayor of Ferguson, Missouri.

Jones, who has served as a council member for five years and is a 40-year resident of Ferguson, is also the first woman to be elected mayor of the city.

In August 2014, Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, fatally shot Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black man, triggering unrest in the city and protests across the country. This weekend, there were demonstrations in Ferguson over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

Protesters peacefully marched with the Ferguson police chief, but there was also some violence and looting, and Jones said as mayor she will "help stabilize the businesses in Ferguson" that were damaged. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch it is "just my time to do right by the people," and when asked what her election means for black residents, she responded, "One word: Inclusion." Catherine Garcia

May 8, 2019

Denver's Initiative 301, which effectively decriminalizes psychedelic mushrooms, narrowly passed with 50.6 percent of the vote.

Denver is the first city in the United States to approve such a measure. The unofficial results, posted Wednesday afternoon, came as a surprise, as early results on Tuesday night made it appear the initiative would fail. The current tally is 89,320 votes in favor of the measure and 87,341 against, a difference of just 1,979 votes.

Under the measure, city code will be rewritten so that police officers make enforcing laws for possession their lowest priority. It will still be illegal to purchase, sell, or possess psychedelic mushrooms. Supporters of the measure touted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision last fall to give psilocybin "breakthrough therapy" designation, meaning it has potential to help people with treatment-resistant depression, The Denver Post reports. Catherine Garcia

April 2, 2019

Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosector, won Chicago's mayoral election on Tuesday, becoming the city's first black female mayor.

She defeated Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president and chair of the Cook County Democratic Party. Lightfoot, 56, is the second woman to be elected mayor of Chicago, after Jane Byrne, who served one term from 1979 to 1983. This was Lightfoot's first run for office, and with her win, Chicago is now the largest city in the U.S. to ever elect an openly gay mayor.

In September, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would not seek a third term, and Lightfoot and Preckwinkle beat out 12 other candidates in February's first-round election. Catherine Garcia

January 7, 2019

In March, Susan Zirinsky will replace David Rhodes as president of CBS News, becoming the first woman in network history to hold the position.

The first female network news president was Deborah Turness, who held the role at NBC from 2013 to 2017. In addition to being president of CBS News, Zirinsky will also serve as senior executive producer. Rhodes was brought to CBS News in 2011 by disgraced former network CEO Les Moonves.

Zirinsky has spent the last 20 years in charge of 48 Hours, and told the Los Angeles Times "being a producer is my oxygen and the core of who I am." Following the September ouster of 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, who was accused of inappropriate workplace behavior, Zirinsky was the top choice to replace him, but higher-ups wanted her to have a larger role. Zirinsky told the Times she will ensure that CBS News is an "environment where there is transparency, where you can talk, where there are reactions based on actions." Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2018

After years as a diplomat, Sahle-Work Zewde is now the first female president of Ethiopia.

She was elected by parliament, and is Africa's only female head of state. As president, she will be able to appoint ambassadors, receive foreign envoys, and grant pardons, with the prime minister holding executive power. Fitsum Arega, chief of staff to the prime minister's office, said Sahle-Work "brings the right competence and experience to the office. In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life."

Previously, Sahle-Work was special representative to the African Union, head of the U.N. Office to the African Union, director-general of the U.N. Office in Nairobi, and Ethiopia's ambassador to France and Djibouti. After she was sworn in, Sahle-Work promised to work for gender equality, telling parliament, "I urge you all to uphold our peace, in the name of a mother, who is the first to suffer from the absence of power." Catherine Garcia

October 8, 2018

In a first for SpaceX, the company landed a first-stage booster at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday night, after launching an Argentine observation satellite.

Since December 2015, SpaceX has successfully landed 11 Falcon 9 boosters at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, but this was the first time the company landed a booster on the West Coast. In order to make launches less expensive, SpaceX lands first-stage boosters and then refurbishes them; a launch on a new Falcon 9 rocket costs $62 million, the Los Angeles Times reports.

This was the company's 44th successful launch in a row, and the first time SpaceX tried a landing at Vandenberg. Catherine Garcia

September 17, 2018

SpaceX announced Monday night that Yusaku Maezawa, a billionaire from Japan, will be the first private passenger to take a trip around the moon aboard the company's BFR rocket.

The 387-foot rocket is still being developed, but will be reusable with its own passenger ship, The Associated Press reports. Maezawa, a 42-year-old entrepreneur, told reporters his lifelong dream has been to go to space, and when he goes on the weeklong journey, he'll bring along six to eight creative people.

Maezawa also revealed that his trip is expected to take place in 2023. It's been more than 45 years since a person has been on the moon. Catherine Garcia

December 20, 2017

On Wednesday, President Trump issued his first prison sentence commutation.

Trump commuted the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, 57, a former Iowa kosher slaughterhouse executive who was sentenced in 2009 to 27 years for bank fraud and money laundering. The White House released a statement saying Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), supported the commutation.

This is not a presidential pardon, and the conviction has not been vacated. Rubashkin, a father of 10 from Brooklyn, will be under supervised release and still must pay restitution. His Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, was raided in May 2008, and U.S. Immigration and Customs agents arrested almost 400 undocumented immigrants; prosecutors later accused Rubashkin of falsifying documents to continue borrowing on a $35 million line of credit. Catherine Garcia

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