Image from the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame

Born: 1938 (in Canutillo, TX)

Noted For: Alicia Rosencrans Chacón is noted as the first Mexican-American woman to be elected to the El Paso City Council and the first Hispanic member of the Ysleta Independent School Board, as well as for her longtime advocacy for voting rights for Mexican Americans.

Like many trailblazing Texas women, Alicia Chacón is noted for getting there first—on more than one occasion.

Her political interests were awakened early in life by her father, who worked on voter registration drives and political campaigns during the poll tax era in Texas. One of Alicia’s earliest influences was her father’s friend Ralph Yarborough, a Texas senator whose campaign Chacón volunteered for while still in high school.

Throughout her career and over the next several decades, Alicia was heavily involved in efforts to increase voter participation among Mexican Americans, including work with the National Council of Raza Unida, MALDEF, and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. In a 1996 interview, she recalled the first time she herself voted, which happened in the 1960 presidential election: “I remember that I stood in line for about three hours. Because they used to have those old machines that, you know, were so slow… it was just an exciting time. Mucha gente (many people) mobilized and so there was a big turnout.”

Her activities in El Paso County politics continued throughout the sixties. In 1970, Alicia was elected to the Ysleta Independent School Board, making her the first Hispanic person to become a district trustee. In 1974, she became the first woman elected to county office when she won the race for El Paso County clerk. In 1972 and 1976, she served as a national convention delegate for the Democratic Party.

In 1983, Alicia became the first Hispanic woman elected to the El Paso City Council, defeating a male incumbent to win her seat. In 1990, she again made local history when she became the first woman elected to the position of county judge in El Paso, a position she held until 1994.

Alicia is an inductee of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. In 1995, she was honored as the namesake of an elementary school in Ysleta noted for its two-way bilingual education program for English and Spanish speakers.

Additional Learning:

“Interview with Alicia Chacon”: TCU Oral History Project