by Tina Rulewicz
With no Republican opposition, Mary Edna Gonzalez (Democrat) becomes the first woman to ever hold El Paso, Texas’s State Representative District Seat 75. Ms. Gonzalez overcame many obstacles during the primaries. Attacked for being too progressive as well as an open LGBT candidate, Mary, with the help of her principal endorser, Annie’s List, won the primary and now, the seat.
When asked what her constituents can expect from her, Mary replied, “I think people in Texas can expect a hard worker, a compassionate leader, a thoughtful representative, and someone who is really working in a coalition with people to try to make a difference, to try to make El Paso and the state better.” With the value of a strong work ethic instilled in her at an early age, Mary’s resume, both academically and professionally, cause her to stand out as a proven leader at the age of 28.
Mary holds a Bachelors Degree in History and Mexican American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, a Masters Degree of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Social Justice from St. Edwards University, and currently is working on her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction; Cultural Studies in Education at the University of Texas at Austin. The jobs she’s maintained while consecutively performing her studies have ranged from working for State Representatives to the Assistant Dean for Student Multi-Cultural Affairs at Southwestern University to Program Coordinator in the Multi-Cultural Engagement Center at the University of Texas at Austin and more.
Mary attributes her work ethic and passion for politics to two major reasons: first, her parents; second, a childhood traumatic event. As a girl, Mary remembers watching “Meet the Press” on Sunday mornings with her father and observed her mother’s tremendous attitude toward and actions of service within the community. Secondly, at the age of ten, Mary’s family’s house burned to the ground two days before Christmas. Not only could the fire department not find their house due to lack of street signage, when they finally did get there, they ran out of water. Mary’s family lost everything and was taken in by a local farmer for an entire year, given provisions and even Christmas presents.
The manner in which the local community enveloped Mary and her family truly spawned her desire to give back. “I just love my community and I really feel like I can make a difference!” Mary’s goal in doing so starts from the bottom up. Mary wants to organize volunteers from the local community who are willing to better advance the district. She feels it necessary to roll up her sleeves and paint street names on 2 by 4’s, thus hopefully preventing an accident like the one Mary’s family suffered from years ago.
It’s easy to see that a passion for social justice burns within Mary Edna Gonzalez. Whether it’s poverty, health care, street signs, LGBT issues, or education, Mary ardently pursues an end to all oppression. With maturity, grace, and assertion, she will help make El Paso District 75 and the entire state of Texas a better and more progressive place to live.