Age is nothing but a number, and 19-year-old Mary Patricia Hector is proving it as the Spelman College sophomore is the youngest woman to officially run for the Stonecrest City Council in the state of Georgia.
Hector saw politics in her future from a young age. By the time she was in high school, she had attended more funerals than she could count, including the death of her childhood best friend. She said the lack of preventative measures surrounding troubling issues and the investment in a new jail on Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain served as the catalyst for Hector wanting to see her city change for the better.
“That’s really what sparked my involvement and it’s really important to get people in office that care about issues that impact all people,” Hector said.
She said she envisions a city that invests in community centers, senior citizen homes, schools, the people and so much more of what makes Dekalb County one worth praising. “I saw the need in my community. The fact that so many things were happening and young people weren’t at the table, and their voices weren’t really being heard.”
By day you can find Hector in classes where she is double majoring in political science and comparative women’s studies, and by the afternoon you will find her visiting community members with her Spelman sisters and Morehouse brothers to learn more about their concerns. In between time, this young politician has managed to work under the guidance of Reverend Al Sharpton, speak to President Obama, serve as the National Youth Director of the the National Action Network (NAN) and found the Just Think Twice Campaign.
“I’ve had people tell me to wait my turn. What does that even mean? What am I waiting for? I didn’t know we took turns to run for public office,” Hector said.
A 2017 report from the Center for American Women and Politics revealed that women of color make up 7.1 percent of Congress members and 5.9 percent of state legislators. On a local level, eight women of color have the position of mayor in states such as California, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. During her own personal journey, Hector said she has experienced her fair share of ridicule and disdain from other politicians including remarks that debunked her skills to even run for city council.
“I’ve had some really raw experiences. Before I even decided to run for city council, people used to tell me all the time that ‘I’m a kind person that can change the world, but politics is tough,’” Hector said.
Those experiences have not deterred Hector in any way, but instead have only made her stronger in her campaign. Her stance has broken many barriers and opened the door for numerous peers to reach out to her sharing their thoughts of wanting to get involved with politics. She is a believer not only in her city, but her own personal motto of: “Don’t wait to be great. You can change the world now.” With her ambition and dedication to transforming Dekalb County into the “Silicon Valley of the South,” we would say that Hector is well on her way to giving back to a city that she adores.