Latina Women in Politics: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez

Governor Susana Martinez (R-N.M.) has the distinction of being the first and only Latina that has ever been elected as a Governor in the history of the United States, where Hispanic women are only one percent of elected officials nationwide. Martinez was elected in 2010, was reported to have been on Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential shortlist in 2012, and is very likely to be on Chris Christie’s shortlist as his running mate if he becomes the Presidential candidate in 2016.

Susana has stated the following missions for her state: pushing for tough education reforms (to make New Mexico more competitive in job creation), supporting critical job-creating industries including the energy sector, priorities and plans for bringing bold change and budget cutbacks to state government, and improving the lives of New Mexico’s children and families.

The Governor helped turn the state’s largest structural deficit in history into a surplus, while protecting classroom spending and basic health care, all without raising taxes. She was applauded for selling the state’s luxury jet for $2.5 million and has earned one of the highest approval ratings in the country, never dropping below 60 percent.

In 2013, Governor Martinez’s New Mexico Jobs Package was signed into law, and that reduced the tax rate on businesses from 7.6 to 5.9 percent. She also worked hard to amend her state’s tax code so that manufacturers are no longer penalized for exporting their goods. New Mexico then moved from 38th in the U.S.A. to first in export growth.

In April 2011, by Hispanic Business Magazine named her “Woman of the Year,” and in 2013 she was honored by Time among the 100 Most Influential People in the World and was one of only two governors on the list.

Where did this phenomenal Latina come from? Her parents started a security guard business in Las Cruces with very little money, and divided up the work. The paperwork was handled by her mom, and Susana worked as a security guard while she attended college during the day, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso. She later pursued a law degree from the University of Oklahoma School of Law.

Susana went on to become a prosecutor for an outstanding 25 years and was elected and re-elected three times over 14 years as District Attorney for the Third Judicial District in Southern New Mexico, the second largest District Attorney’s office in the state. She was twice “Prosecutor of the Year” twice, and Heart Magazine in 2008 named her “Woman of the Year” for her dedicated work for children and their safety.

Let’s all applaud Governor Martinez for her leadership and passion for public service.

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