It’s official—with the election of Joca Marquez for the Place 5 City Council seat in the Dec. 11 runoff, San Marcos has established its first-ever majority-women City Council.
Marquez will join Mayor Jane Hughson, Place 6 Council Member Melissa Derrick and Place 1 Council Member Lisa Prewitt on the seven-member council.
Marquez, a Texas State University lecturer, received 1,472 votes, or 62.88 percent of the total ballots cast in the Dec. 11 runoff, earning her seat as the fourth woman on the dais.
“It’s definitely a historic moment,” Marquez said. “It makes a huge difference because for such a long time we’ve had this system in place of patriarchy. We’ve had this system in place where we’ve kind of conditioned ourselves to believe that it’s OK for men to make our decisions. It is important to have women at the forefront because we lead with passion and we lead with compassion, and we always take into consideration people’s feelings and people’s needs over our very own.”
Jane Hughson took the mayor’s gavel in the Nov. 6 election as the first woman mayor in San Marcos since 2010, and the fourth in the city’s history.
“I have great mentorship from Lisa and Melissa and Jane,” Marquez said. “I think the type of leadership that we women bring is totally different. I think that if we don’t have women at the forefront, our issues get pushed to the side, our issues get marginalized. It is so important that we as women unite and that we as women make our city’s agenda. Because we are being responsive to the whole community. Not just to the elite few.”
Hughson, who has lived in San Marcos for more than three decades, served as the Place 3 City Council member from 1996-2002 and as the Place 4 City Council member from 2014-2018.
When Hughson first ran for City Council in 1996, the only two women on the council, Mayor Kathy Morris and Council Member Betty Kissler, had chosen not to run for reelection.
“At the end of my intro or closing statements when running, I would say, ‘If you don’t elect me there will be no women on the council,’” Hughson said. “Not sure how much it helped, but I did win. We do work hard to represent everyone already—I feel like I represent everyone in our town as much as I can, but it’s nice when people, especially young people, can look at the council and go, ‘I can do that.’”
Hughson said it is a good feeling to go from campaigning to be the only woman on the council in 1996 to now serving as the mayor of the city’s first council comprised mostly of women.
“It’s wonderful,” Hughson said. “We need a council that reflects our community in all ways, like ethnic diversity, gender diversity, age, where you live in San Marcos.”
Adding diversity to the dais was one of the driving forces behind Marquez’s desire to run for council.
“For the first time it’s a majority-women council and it’s also, for the first time, the most people of color we’ve had on council,” Marquez said. “So, it’s myself as a Latina, there’s another Latino man, [Place 2 City Council Member] Saul Gonzales, and then of course Mark Rockeymoore who is an African-American male. So for the first time we’re the most diverse council that we have ever been.”
According to the Texas Tribune, 2018 was the “year of the woman.” Forty percent of Texas women who ran for congressional, judicial, State Board of Education and other statewide offices won their race in the midterm—a trend that added three women to the Texas House and flipped 12 Texas House seats to Democrat.
Newly elected Place 4 City Council Member Mark Rockeymoore said he is honored to serve on the first San Marcos City Council comprised mostly of women.
“I think that a majority-women City Council is a story that needs to be told because San Marcos is leading the front in the state of Texas in regards to the progressive movement,” Rockeymoore said. “And to be on this council is going to be an experience that I will never forget. I think that we will be doing some landmark work and that our council is well-led, and it’s going to be a transformative time for the city.”