Election Day progress?

Many pundits are talking about the key Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia and whether voters are sending a message to President Obama or upset about the economy and taking it out on incumbents.

Meanwhile, an overlooked trend line points to continued progress when it comes to race relations and gays:

* York, Pa. elected Kim Bracey as its first African-American mayor. The working-class city in central Pennsylvania has struggled with racial tensions over the years, including riots that erupted 40 years ago.

* Atlanta elected Shirley Franklin its first white mayor since 1973. Past elections have often been laced with racial tensions in the city that in the turbulent 1960s billed itself as “too busy to hate.”

* Houston is on the brink of possibly electing the first openly gay mayor in a major American city. Annise Parker is collected the most votes yesterday, but is headed for a run off next month against former city attorney Gene Locke. If Parker wins she would make Houston the largest city with an openly gay mayor.

One other trend that is good to see: all three pathbreaking candidates are women.