In Austin, Texas, city council member Delia Garza was elected mayor pro tem on Monday, making her the first Latina to serve in the role in the city’s history.
But this isn’t the only time Garza, who represents southeast Austin’s District 2, has broken barriers. In 2014, the Mexican-American politico became the first Latina elected to Austin City Council, currently serving in year three of her second term.
Following the unanimous appointment from her council colleagues, Garza, 42, stressed the need for more Latina representation in Austin’s city government, where 36 percent of its estimated 885,000 population is Latinx.
“I want young Latinas in Austin to look at our leadership and see themselves and know that they can serve in this capacity or achieve whatever goals they set their minds to,” Garza, a Democrat, said, according to ABC affiliate KVUE. “I’m proud to be the first Latina elected to this council, but I’m also saddened that it’s taken us this long to have a Latina on council.”
In the new position, Garza will be required to run city council meetings in the absence of Mayor Steve Adler.
“Delia’s passion and caring for the people of Austin has moved the council forward. I look forward to her leadership as mayor pro tem as we take on the difficult challenges facing the city,” Council Member Ann Kitchen, of District 5, said.
District 4 Council Member Greg Casar also shared his support. “Since before we were on council, I have known council member Garza as a progressive leader who never forgets who she is or where she came from,” he said. “As our city’s first ever Latina mayor pro tem, I am confident that she will continue her advocacy and leadership for those who need it most across our city.”
Before entering elected office, Garza, who holds a law degree, was a firefighter with the Austin Fire Department and an assistant attorney general in the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General.