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First Women Elected Officials in Travis County

Travis County has had over 1000 elected officials since 1840, and most of them have been men. In fact, no woman held office in the Travis County government until 1912. But, the county has progressed, and more and more women have been elected to office over the years. This exhibit highlights the trailblazers who made history by becoming the first women to be elected to office.

Listed below are the first women elected to Travis County Office. Click on the image to learn more about each official.

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Maud Douglas

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County Superintendent of Public Instruction

Travis County’s first elected woman official was Miss Maud Douglas, who served as the County Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1912-1918. She was the county educational officer, in charge of managing state and county funding dedicated to schools. Miss Douglas was elected several years before women were allowed to vote. A photo of Miss Douglas is not available, a photo of the first women voters in Travis County is provided.

1912-1918
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Emilie Limberg

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Travis County Clerk

Before Emilie Limberg became the first woman County Clerk in Travis County, she was the first woman Deputy County Clerk in the state of Texas. She began working in the Travis County Clerk’s office in 1905, was promoted to Chief Deputy Clerk in 1925, and elected as County Clerk in 1934. She was known around the office as “Miss Emilie,” and when she retired in 1970, she had worked for Travis County for 6 1/2 decades. Two women would follow her in her footsteps as County Clerk – Doris Shropshire and Dana DeBeauvior.

1934-1969
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Mary Pearl Williams

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County Court at Law Judge & District Court Judge

1973-1980, 1980-2000

Mary Pearl Williams was Travis County’s first woman judge – both in the County Court and District Court. From 1973 to 1980, she served as the first woman Travis County Court-at-Law Judge, and then she was elected 53rd District Court Judge, a position she held from 1980-2000. Originally appointed to serve an unexpired term, she was elected without opposition from either political party for each of her many terms as Judge. She received numerous professional honors and was known for her justice, compassion, and integrity.

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Ann Richards

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County Commissioner

Ann Richards was the first female Travis County Commissioner. Elected in 1977, she served for two terms as a commissioner before being elected as Texas State Treasurer in 1982 and then Governor of Texas in 1990. She was the second woman governor of Texas and the first elected in her own right. Known for her wit, humor and tough exterior, writer Mimi Swartz described Richards as trying to “out-bubba the bubbas by picking her teeth with an ivory toothpick and cleaning her fingernails with a Swiss army knife during commissioners’ meetings”.

1977-1981
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Leslie Taylor

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Justice of the Peace

Travis County’s first woman Justice of the Peace was Leslie Taylor. She served from 1977-1982, then as County Court at Law Judge from 1982-1987. As a Justice of the Peace, Judge Taylor was known for holding court at Willie Nelson’s annual 4th of July picnic. Her reasoning was that it allowed people charged with misdemeanors to pay their fines on the spot and avoid being taken to jail. This not only reduced the workload for her office, but it also allowed individuals to continue enjoying the Fourth of July festivities.

1977-1982
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Margaret Moore

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County Attorney

Margaret Moore was Travis County’s first woman County Attorney. She began at Travis County as a Juvenile Public Defender in 1976, became Assistant District Attorney in 1977, and then was elected Travis County Attorney in 1981. Since then, she has served as County Commissioner of Precinct 3 twice, appointed to serve unexpired terms in 1998 and 2001. In 2017, she became the second woman to hold the office of Travis County District Attorney, which she holds today.

1981-1984
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Margaret Gómez

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Constable

Margaret Gomez became Travis County’s first elected female Constable in 1980, when she won against a 14-year incumbent. She was re-elected in 1984, 1988 and 1991; she resigned in 1993 to seek the office of County Commissioner Precinct 4. In 1995, Margaret Gómez was sworn into office as Commissioner and became the first Mexican-American woman to ever serve in this capacity in Travis County. Mrs. Fannie Mae Woody was the first appointed constable. She was appointed in 1942 to succeed her husband in office following his death.

1981-1993
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Cecelia Burke

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Tax Assessor-Collector

Cecelia Burke was Travis County’s first elected female Travis County Tax-Assessor, a position she held from 1985 to 1991. During her time in office, she recruited and mentored Nelda Wells Spears and Tina Morton, two women who each would later serve as the county Tax-Assessor Collector. After her time in office, Ms. Burke continued her work in the public sector, later managing the Domestic Relations Office for the Travis County District Judges. Similar to the office of Constable, there was an earlier appointed Tax Assessor, Mrs. Viola Miller, who was appointed to the office in 1914. Miss Carrie Hill held the related position of Tax Collector, also in 1914.

1985-1991
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Dolores Ortega-Carter

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County Treasurer

Dolores Ortega-Carter is Travis County’s first female, and current, County Treasurer, having held the position since 1987. She is the longest serving county treasurer in Travis County history and also holds the distinction of being the first Hispanic woman elected to a countywide office in Travis County.

1987-Present
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Amalia Rodriguez-Mendoza

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District Clerk

In 1991, Amalia Rodriguez-Mendoza became the first woman elected as Travis County District Clerk, and office she held for 23 years. She was the first minority District Clerk in Travis County, and the second Hispanic female elected to countywide office. While District Clerk, she was appointed by Governor Ann Richards as the chair of the Governor’s Commission for Women; she was also a co-founder of the Hispanic Women's Network of Texas, the first statewide Hispanic women's organization. The first woman appointed to the office of District Clerk was Mrs. Helen Sellers. A former teacher, she served as acting District Clerk from 1947-1948.

1991-2014
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Margo Frasier

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Sheriff

In 1977, Margo Frasier was hired as a Travis County corrections officer and deputy. In this position, she primarily worked in the county jail with female inmates. As a woman in the male-dominated field of corrections, Ms. Frasier overcame many stereotypes while advancing her career, eventually becoming the office's first female lieutenant and the first female captain. In 1996, she was elected Travis County Sheriff, the first female to serve in the office in Travis County, and one of only four women Sheriffs at the time in all of Texas. She served two four-year terms.

1997-2005
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Rosemary Lehmberg

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District Attorney

In 2009, Rosemary Lehmberg became the first woman District Attorney in Travis County. She began working for the District Attorney’s Office in 1976 as a trial attorney and was promoted multiple times. She became the Director of the Family Justice Division in 1988, and started the Travis County Children's Advocacy Center (now called the Center for Child Protection). She was the First Assistant District Attorney from 1997 to 2009. In 2009, she was elected as the first female District Attorney in Travis County, a position she held until her retirement in 2016.

2009-2016
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Sarah Eckhardt

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County Judge

Sarah Eckhardt became Travis County’s first woman County Judge on January 1, 2015, an office that she holds today. Prior to becoming County Judge, Judge Eckhardt worked for eight years as an Assistant Travis County Attorney, and in 2006, she was elected to represent Precinct 2 on the Commissioners Court. As Judge, she has been a leader on addressing the major issues that face Travis County residents, including women’s rights.

2015-Present