Gonzalez profiled as ‘new face’ of El Paso politics

More like the new gay face of Texas politics.

In a profile about the future House District 75 Rep. Mary Gonzalez on the front page of Monday’s El Paso Times (shown at right), the 28-year-old is modeled as a “new face” for the district.

Gonzalez won her Democratic primary and will replace retiring state Rep. Chente Quintillia. She is unopposed in the general election.

Aside from being the first openly gay woman elected to the Texas Legislature, Gonzalez is also the first woman to represent the El Paso district. But Gonzalez “doesn’t dwell on those labels,” according to the article.

Instead, the eldest of 11 siblings will focus on how to improve the lives of families who face hardships from education to clean drinking water, remembering the time her house burned down and the community reached out to help her family.

Gonzalez recently told Dallas Voice after she won the primary that her passion lies with the impoverished unincorporated areas of her district and she wanted to bring better living conditions to the citizens there.

But her historic election has not gone unnoticed as she heads to Austin in January to serve as the second openly gay representative, after Glen Maxey, who served from 1991 to 2003. Her race – and election – drew a swarm of media attention. She told the El Paso Times the coverage was around 3,500 articles.

Read an in-depth interview with Gonzalez in an upcoming edition of Dallas Voice.

From the El Paso Times:

She added that there were times during her campaign that she questioned whether her gender, age or sexuality would work against her.

She focused on the issues, she said, and remembered her mother telling her that what she was facing was no harder than living in the colonias without basic infrastructure. That’s one of the key issues she hopes to address, Gonzalez said. “I am, of course, aware I’ve created this ‘history,’ but I always ran this race on issues,” she said. “I wanted people of El Paso to understand what legislators do and what they can do for them.”

“Do I think it’s important for people to see diversity in the Legislature? Yes, certainly,” Gonzalez continued. “But this campaign was not about me or the boxes people could put me into. It was about issues and having the qualifications to address them.”

What lies ahead, Gonzalez said, is more than mere politics.

“I think my whole life I’ve subscribed to the leadership style of inspiring and empowering groups and communities,” Gonzalez said. “If I can do that as a state legislator then I will have succeeded.”

—  Anna Waugh