Dr. Cadena’s political aspirations were first exposed to her as a child, listening to the radio to learn more about Cesar Chavez and The Great Boycott, while looking into the subject within newspapers and libraries. As an educator and an advocate in the community, you’ll either find Dr. Cadena in the classroom or at local Democratic groups, meeting with candidates and constituents alike. When asked how she knew she wanted to run for office, she said, “I realized that if you want to get anything done, sometimes you have to do it yourself. I learned that from my mom,” she says, taking me back to a time where her mother would defend her in grade school. “Everytime we got back to Carizzo, they would hold me back by a grade, because we were migrants and the school assumed farmers didn’t know anything.” Dr. Cadena’s resilience keeps her going in this race, as well as that of the group of female candidates that she works with around North Texas.
I was able to catch Dr. Cadena on the phone after she met with a group in Ponder, Texas for a breakfast to discuss the issues the people of that town may face. While discussing the gender composition of people pursuing politics, she mentioned the prominence of women in the behind-the-scenes aspects of politics. “It’s always the women doing the groundwork. Look at precinct chairs, they’re mostly women.” Yet, she’s noticed a shift in what many are identifying as the “Blue Wave” of 2018’s Democratic candidates. “We’re finally getting enough women to stand up.”
Although the wave of women running for office is exciting regardless of political affiliation, Dr. Cadena and I spoke in depth about the systematic barriers that some women face when running for office. She says that in the county party office, there is a larger presence of men in executive positions while women are in the background keeping the party afloat. She doesn’t let that stop her, though. Dr. Cadena’s team is powered by both male and female members who are candidates themselves. Librarian Sandy Swan, UNT Democrats President and Precinct Chair Jordan Villareal, City Council candidate of Frisco K.D. Warach and current CFBISD School Board Trustee Candace Valenzuela are a few names of well-known folks in the area that Dr. Angie Cadena relies on for support.
“I think that’s what holds some women back--having a family. It’s in our upbringing.” Although she doesn’t see herself running for statewide office, she hopes to stay in local politics so her time with her grandchildren is good and plenty with her main job being a real estate and finance professor on track for a tenure position at the University of North Texas.
With the excitement of women’s marches and female candidates up and down the ballot in Texas, I asked Angie what advice she could give to women. She stressed the importance of having a female support system like the network of female candidates that she works with, but that’s not all. “Especially talk to male candidates or men who have run for office before. Anybody can be a mentor in this field, but don’t look for someone just like you. You can’t wait for other people like you to come along and give you advice, you have to find it in others.”
Dr. Angelita Cadena is determined to turn out voters on March 6th and doesn’t let being a woman of color stop her from showing up each day on the campaign trail and in the lecture hall.