Vanessa at the Table

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 12, 2020

Dear Editor,
    Representation matters.
    Austin is 181 years old, but has had only one Latina Austin City Council member, Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, who was elected into office just six years ago. In a city that is 35% Latino, why do we struggle to have women of color elected to office? Until 2014, Austin had a city council without individual districts, purposefully created to control the power of communities of color on Austin City Council.
    Single member districts have brought Austin new opportunities to elect candidates of color, but Latinas have not always had that same opportunity. The truth is that Hispanic women have fewer resources and more barriers when running for office. Financially, Latinas still earn just 54 cents to every dollar a white man makes and often find themselves as the breadwinner of the household.
    The lack of diversity in our city is felt to this day. During this 2020 local election cycle, only one Latina out of a field of 20 candidates has stepped up to run for Austin City Council. We need Latinas on Austin City Council to ensure that when important decisions are made about our community and our lives, we have someone who is there who understands our unique viewpoint. That is why we support Vanessa Fuentes for Austin City Council, District 2.
    Vanessa comes from a working-class immigrant background. She knows what it is like to struggle financially. Growing up, her family lived on the jagged edges of the working class, sometimes needing the assistance of food banks to put dinner on the table. In return, she has given back and she has spent her adult-life working to empower Latinas in our community.
    Vanessa is a first generation college graduate who has been serving in various leadership capacities in the community. From volunteering with Con Mi MADRE to the Food In Tummies program in Del Valle and distributing personal protective equipment (PPE), our community has benefited from Vanessa’s work ethic and dedication to the community. She knows what it is like to fight for equity in every workplace and organization that she has been a part of. She is a true servant leader. Latinas, like Vanessa, have the traits most important in someone who is running for office: a deep passion and commitment to their families and communities.
    Study after study has shown that diversity makes groups more creative, improves decision-making, and increases the quality of the work. When it comes to the future of this wonderful city we all love, we need Vanessa at the table.
Celia Israel
Texas State Representative, House District 50
Lupe Morin
Executive Director, Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas 2007-2019
Amalia Rodriguez Mendoza
Retired Travis County District Clerk
Olga Campos Benz
Author and Retired Broadcast Journalist
Martha Cotera
Librarian, Writer, & Chicano Civil Rights activist
Larissa Y. Davila
Small Business Owner and Media Producer, BCO Consulting Group
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