MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Legislature will soon have its first Jewish member in more than forty years.

Phillip Ensler, a lawyer and former teacher, declared victory Tuesday night over incumbent Republican Charlotte Meadows to serve in the Alabama House of Representatives. Meadows had represented House District 74 since a special election in 2019 to replace Rep. Dmitri Polizos, who died while in office. Redistricting based on the 2020 census, though, shifted the demographics of the district from majority white to majority Black, providing a rare political opportunity for Democrats in a deep red state.

Ensler’s effort to seize that opportunity proved fruitful Tuesday night. When he assumes office, Ensler will become the first Jew to serve in the Alabama Legislature in more than four decades and only the third Jew to ever serve in the lawmaking body.

“We will celebrate tonight, but there is so much work to do,” Ensler told a group of supporters gathered in Montgomery.

“I have to say this part out loud so they hear it, and I’ll say it to their faces. The Republican leaders that behind closed doors said that a Jewish person can’t win — I cannot wait to look them in the eye and tell them ‘You’re wrong.'”

Just before Tuesday’s election, CBS 42 profiled Ensler, who was born in New York but has lived in Montgomery for more than a decade. To read the profile of Ensler, click here.