Ramona Martinez: First Latina President of City Council
When we interviewed Ramona Martinez for our "Chicanas: Nurturer and Warriors" documentary, one of the most significant parts — apart from the spectacular view from her condo's balcony — was the constant intolerance she faced as the only Latina in a male-dominated world.
One of the culprits: her own husband.
"When I first ran for city council, he told me, well, he told his mom, he hadn't made up his mind whether he was going to let me run or not," Ramona said. "She went and had him get her checkbook... she signed her name and my husband says 'Mom, what's this check for?' She goes, 'For Ramona, for her campaign. So that was the end of the story."
That's not to say he didn't support her; things were just different back then, according to Ramona.
The encouragement she got from other strong women in her life, she said, is what kept her going. Hands down. But the realization that in order to make lasting changes she had to have a seat at the table is what pushed her to run for office.
"I really felt public policy, if you didn't have a seat at the table, making all the rules, changing laws and so forth, then we really wouldn't have a voice," Ramona explains. "So that's what I always thought my role was."
The first Latina to be elected president of city council by her peers, not once, not twice, but three times, Ramona spent 16 years representing District 1 — one of Denver's poorest municipalities. During her tenure, she helped oversee monumental changes in Denver, including the building of Denver International Airport, Coors Field, the Convention Center, and growth within her own district.
Photo Album: Ramona Martinez
Photos courtesy of Ramona Martinez and Denver Public Library, Special Collection