Since taking office in 2021, Vanessa has fought for improved health and livability, affordability, creative arts, and quality of life. In addition to tackling these community challenges, she has taken a stand for health equity as Chair of the Public Health Committee by sponsoring legislation on displacement prevention, reproductive justice, community health workers, vaccine distribution, mental health services, and healthy food access.
Born and raised in Central Texas to an immigrant mother from Mexico and military veteran father, Vanessa understands the unique challenges her District 2 communities face. Since the beginning of her career in the public sector as a legislative aide focused on criminal policy reform, to her work in healthcare advocacy and policy at a national nonprofit, Vanessa has always been a staunch advocate for healthy communities and racial justice.
With the affordability in mind, Vanessa introduced and passed legislation to increase the living (minimum) wage for our City Employees to $20/hr. She is also making sure that the littlest Austinites have a strong start in life. This includes expanding access to childcare and dual-language, full-day pre-K for families in the eastern crescent, and making library cards free to all youth in Travis County.
Understanding the code red climate crisis and the marginalized communities who bear the brunt of its disasters, Vanessa co-sponsored the implementation of the Austin Climate Equity Plan and is committed to environmental justice, with a special emphasis on building resilient communities. Her efforts include connecting residents with affordable flood mitigation opportunities. Following the 2023 Ice Storm, she quickly jumped into action with the passage of a policy to start the analysis of burying power lines in city-funded projects.
She currently serves as the Chair of the Public Health Committee and the Community Advancement Network Board of Directors. She is also a member of the following committees: Audit and Finance, Mobility, and the CAMPO Transit Policy Board.