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Travis County bush

Gómez, Woody prepare for rematch at ballot box

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 by Jo Clifton

Margaret Gómez, who has served as Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 4 since 1995 and who was the first Mexican American woman in a county commissioner position, declared Monday that she is not done yet.

Susanna Woody announced last week that she would be running for the job also. The two will face each other, and possibly other candidates, in the March 2022 Democratic primary.

Gómez, 78, defeated Woody in the Democratic primary in 2018 with 67 percent of the vote. With no Republican on the ballot four years ago, winning the primary was the same as winning the race. Travis County Republican Party spokesman Andy Hogue told the Austin Monitor it’s too early to know whether any Republican will sign up for the race this year.

In her press announcement, Gómez said, “The challenges we face are simply too big and too urgent for me not to run. I have the experience and know how to make sure we build back better after Covid, make much needed reforms to our criminal justice system, and address crucial infrastructure deficits.”

Woody, 38, is a project manager at AMD, serves on the Del Valle Independent School District Board of Trustees and is president of the Del Valle Community Coalition. One of her most vocal supporters is community activist Paul Saldaña, a former Austin ISD trustee who supported Gómez in the past, including in her 2018 race against Woody. But now, he said, “I think for me … and especially for the Latino community, we need to support the next generation of leaders.”

In announcing the incumbent’s candidacy for reelection, political consultant Nate Walker gave Gómez credit for the successful vaccine clinic at the Circuit of the Americas, “right in the heart of Precinct 4.” He also called attention to her vote on June 15 to delay consideration of a new women’s jail, a major request of criminal justice reform advocates. Walker told the Monitor he is working on a volunteer basis and will be helping put together Gómez’s campaign team.

Travis County Fire Rescue Chief Ken Bailey said via email, “Commissioner Gómez was integral in our efforts to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable and hard to reach communities in Southeast Travis County, first by creating a collaborative with Travis County Fire Rescue and local leaders and also by spreading information to the people she represents. We are forever indebted to Commissioner Gómez for taking real action to guide our county through this pandemic.”

For Saldaña, however, Gómez has not done enough for her community. He pointed to considerably lower vaccine rates among Hispanics in Travis County and a higher death toll.

Woody will be holding her first campaign fundraiser on June 29 at Juan in a Million. Hosts of the fundraiser include Saldaña, Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, and Kolby Duhon, former president of the Texas Young Democrats.

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