Student Government elections are taking place at the University of Texas at Austin this month. The President-Vice President candidate pair that has been making the most amount of noise on campus, and across the state, is that of Guneez Ibrahim and Hannah McMorris. This all-female leadership ticket has their sights set on bringing equality to marginalized communities, if elected. According to the campaign’s website, only 20% of the student body population actually participate in student government elections. Guneez & Hannah hope to connect with the communities that regularly do not vote and emphasize their opinions in future campus-wide decisions.
Judge Tonya Parker presides over the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas County, where she determines the outcome of cases ranging from medical malpractice to employment discrimination. She serves litigants from all over the world, so long as their civil case touches Dallas County limits in some way. Her calm demeanor and intellectual remarks exemplify her ability to articulate in depth policy perspectives. She has been the recipient of tremendous honors, highlighting her dedication to the community she serves, including Dallas Women’s Foundation’s “Maura Leadership Award”, “Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service” from her alma mater SMU Dedman School of Law, and “Trial Judge of the Year” by the American Board of Trial Advocates – Dallas Chapter. But practicing law hadn’t always been Parker’s number one passion. If it weren’t for role models throughout her adolescence, she might’ve continued focusing on her blooming career as an athlete, never realizing her potential on the bench.
Dr. Angie Cadena is a tenure-track professor at the University of North Texas, and a woman determined to pave the way for female candidates in Denton County. Born in Carrizo Springs, Angie grew up between Illinois and Texas as the daughter of farmers, moving back and forth as the seasons changed. As a Mexican-American family in the 1960s, she claims it was almost unheard of for women to take care of anything else but their families in such a patriarchal culture. As a woman running for the Denton County Democratic Party Chair, Ms. Cadena prides herself in focusing on key issues in the community. “’I’m a big advocate for education and community issues, especially Hispanic issues. My role, whether or not I win, is to continue serving the community for its better interests and standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves.”
Emily Jackson created the “She’s Running Podcast”, an online talk show that interviews women who are running for office, after the 2016 Presidential Election. She felt that the newly elected presidential administration would perpetuate a cycle of limited representation in government, particularly for women. Early on, Jackson ruled out running for office herself after joining a political incubator; she identified as an introvert, making a life of knocking on doors and speaking to crowds, difficult. Instead, Jackson decided to garner her entrepreneurial skills by creating a podcast, and corresponding website, to share the stories of women who are running. Eventually, Jackson expanded her reach of influence even further by not only interviewing candidates, but also leaders from nonprofits dedicated to electing women like She Should Run and IGNITE National.
At eight years old, Amanda Ghagar knew she wanted to be a lawyer. When asked in elementary what she aspired to be when she grew up, Ghagar was told “oh honey, you have to go to school for that!”, assuming she wouldn't go to college, let alone law school. Now, as an established lawyer in the DFW area, Ghagar is running for judge of Dallas County’s 68th District Court. If elected, she would become the first Iranian-American to hold public office as a judge in Texas. Growing up in conservative Lampasas, Texas, she knew that she would face an uphill battle in gaining the trust of her community, not only as a woman and an Iranian-American but also as a Democrat. Ghagar now hopes to break the status quo set by society for herself, as a public official.
Charlotte Clymer, a Transgender woman who calls Texas her home state, recently rose through the ranks as a political figure this past year. She received a job offer as the Press Secretary for Rapid Response at the Human Rights Campaign, got blocked by President Donald J. Trump on Twitter, advocated for Trans-community rights in the military as an Army veteran herself, continued her Masters of Art in Public Policy at The George Washington University, and working towards a book deal. This isn’t the first time that Clymer has rattled her community with activism. At the age of 18, Clymer ran for Round Rock City Council while still a senior in high school. Clymer didn’t just enter the political scene, she flew in with a bang when she beat two of four candidates at the polls. Now, Clymer fights for active representation, believing all officials in public office should follow her words, “what is it like for the people you are leading”?