By Cassandra Hernandez
March 8 is International Women’s Day and I am excited to report that there has been a noteworthy increase of women in elected office in El Paso County.
Today is especially meaningful for me, as a sitting elected official and woman, to announce a new addition to my family, the arrival of a baby boy. I spent nine months pregnant in office with two other school-aged children, a hurdle that causes many women to not consider running for office. I am not the first nor will I be the last woman in office to welcome children as they run and serve.
As the value of diversity grows, the under-representation of women in elective office in El Paso County is reversing, a trend we hope to see nationwide.
In El Paso, we see more women of all different professions choosing to run for office. In the March 2022 primary elections, 41 out of 78 total candidates for El Paso County local positions were women. Of the 41 women candidates who ran for office, 22 of them were successful at securing primary wins, and three will face no opposition in the November 2022 general election.
Twenty years ago, there were only 15 women on the El Paso ballot.
The El Paso City Council has five women in office, or 62% of the composition of the council. Women have served as a majority in City Council for several years. El Paso County government has one woman serving among the five seats on Commissioners Court.
The county courts have nine women who serve as elected judges, reflecting 43% of all judgeships. Our state delegation currently has three women serving as state representatives, or 60% of our representation in Texas. As El Paso is physically isolated from the rest of the state, it is crucial that we have women representation at the Capitol.
Our county government also has other elected positions such as the county attorney, district attorney, and district and county clerks. There are 14 women filling these county elected positions, representing 43% of elected positions.
At the federal level, in 2018 we finally elected our first woman and Latina to Congress, Veronica Escobar.
As I reflect on my own journey and look at the women leaders around me, it is clear that it is women in office who will help change the policy landscape that directly impacts women. Whether it is criminal justice, health care, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s reproductive rights, or how we care for expectant mothers and their newborns, it is imperative that a woman’s viewpoint be represented in these areas.
Although we see major strides in various levels of governments, there are still advancements to be made in sectors such as school boards, where a majority of men have typically dominated, with little or no representation from women.
This International Women’s Day, we should celebrate the advancement of women in office in El Paso County and encourage more women to run for elected office. Because if not now, when? If not you, who?
Happy International Women’s Day!
Cassandra Hernandez is El Paso city representative for District 3.
Cover photo: Five of the eight current representatives on El Paso City Council are women. From left are Alexsandra Annello, Isabel Salcido, Cassandra Hernandez, Cissy Lizarraga and Claudia Lizette Rodriguez.