Sarah Depew: A Woman on Fire
As a self-proclaimed introvert, she started off feeling queasy and even throwing up before public speaking engagements. Now, Sarah Depew is confidently running for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives, District 67 (or TX-HD 67). Her transition into confidence began after connecting with a group of fellow women candidates across North Texas, now referred to as the Women on Fire. Depew knew she had to run for office after the2016 Presidential Election, citing that there was no longer a “good enough excuse not to.” Despite her original timid tendencies, Depew admires her own journey of finding strength, while relying on a fellowship of other women. She is, for all purposes, a woman on fire.
Depew was born and raised in North Texas, beginning in Dallas, transitioning into Rockwall, and then continuing in Plano where she currently resides. She became involved in politics through her mother, who ran for County Clerk in Rockwall County. Her mother eventually founded a political action committee called Rockwall PAC. As a child, she admired Hillary Clinton who would end up becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major party. Depew even remembers proclaiming that Hillary Clinton would one day be the next president after being scolded by a teacher for wearing a shirt that said “one day, a woman will be president”. With powerful female role models in her path, Depew was empowered to become involved in politics.
Depew knew she had a desire to be involved in the political realm but never had aspirations to run for office. As a self-proclaimed introvert, Depew feared public speaking, a heavy component of running for office. But, after the 2016 Presidential Election, Depew’s mind changed, saying “whatever reasons I once had holding me back from office were no longer good enough.” Quickly, Depew adapted to her new public lifestyle. She recalls times where she would become so nervous that she would fall ill or eventually throw up before every social engagement. Over time, she eventually practiced speaking in front of crowds enough that she no longer felt ill, however, she still felt she lacked total confidence. That all changed after she met the Women on Fire.
Women on Fire is a support group made up of both elected officials and candidates dedicated to getting more Democratic women elected in Texas. The organization carries some well-known names including State Representative Victoria Neave(TX-HD 107), empowered teen mother Ana-Maria Ramos, transgender-rights powerhouse Danielle Pellett, and, of course, Sarah Depew. Depew credits the Women on Fire group with giving her the confidence building fellowship she needed during this campaign. The close-knit group, which has now been in existence for almost a year, communicates daily about practical campaign strategy and day-to-day advice. This entity has not only been featured in Forbes but also a documentary called Surge, which will be released soon.
If elected, Depew would represent the 67th District for the Texas House of Representatives that encompasses Allen, Richardson, and parts of Plano. The district is population dense, meaning there is a higher number of people per square unit of land than the average. Currently, there are only two hospitals serving mental health patients, forcing the district’s population of over 200,000 people to retain limited resources. Depew hopes to expand mental health and substance abuse services in her district, if elected. She also wants to help modernize how Texas creates budgets for education. To Depew, lower education quality is the root of a variety of issues facing the state.
In terms of facing systemic barriers in politics as a woman, Depew recognizes that they are present. When interviewed by Forbes magazine for the Women on Fire piece, Depew shared a time when she was advised to wear pearls by a political consultant to give her a more “approachable” look; she says, “they wanted me to look like Kate Middleton.” She had also been advised to wear a heel on one leg after breaking the other while block walking; if she had said yes, she would have been on crutches with a full cast on one leg and a high heel on the other. Depew believes that she would have never faced this discussion about her physical appearance had she been a male candidate. Even in the face of adversity, Depew also recognizes the surge of female political candidates, noting that there is a newfound interest in woman candidates especially within the Democratic party.
Depew advises women interested in running for office to pursue their aspirations, even if it doesn’t feel natural. Regardless of her fear of public speaking, Depew mentioned that she continued to push through the unnatural feeling. Now, she says, “I have found my voice after giving myself a chance to.”
Depew is currently running for Texas House of Representatives, District 67. She will face an election in November.