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Doris González Gómez and Angeles Godinez-Valencia have strong leads in the race for two seats on the Cornelius City Council.

PMG FILE PHOTO: - Doris Gonzalez GomezDoris González Gómez and Angeles Godinez-Valencia appear to have won the race for two seats on the Cornelius City Council with 41% and 35% of the vote, respectively, unofficial voting results Wednesday morning, Nov. 4, show.

A third candidate, Sujey Hernandez-Lopez, has 22% percent of the vote.

PMG FILE PHOTO: - Angeles Godinez-ValenciaThe two candidates who receive the highest number of votes will replace Councilors Steve Heinrich and Dave Schamp, who did not file to run for re-election and whose four-year terms end at the end of 2020. The winners will serve four-year terms.

It has been years since a woman served on the city council, and the governing body has not proportionately reflected the city's changing demographics — more than half the population identifies as Latino.

That will change after this election, however, as all three candidates running are Latina.

Reacting to the initial results Tuesday evening, González Gómez said she was "really excited."

González Gómez is an environmental, health and safety coordinator at Epson, a Japan-based electronics company that has a facility in Hillsboro.

She said she always questioned why Cornelius didn't have a woman or a Latina on the governing body given the demographics of the city.

"I knew that, regardless of what the outcome was going to be, we were going to have more representation," González Gómez said. "Hopefully by having a more diverse City Council maybe we would be able to find more ways to connect with the community."

She added that her experiences as a Mexican-American, growing up living in both the United States and Mexico, have showed her how to navigate two different cultures in a way many Cornelius residents can relate to.

She said she hopes being on the City Council will show young people of color that they too can become leaders in their communities.

González Gómez has lived in Cornelius for 15 years and has served on the library advisory board in the city since 2013.

She said she hopes to be able to build bridges within the community.

"I'm thankful that I have gained the trust of Cornelius voters," she said. "I think that is really important for me, especially during COVID when I wasn't able to do the normal campaigning."

Late Wednesday morning, Godinez-Valencia said she too was humbled and proud to bring the Latina community more representation on the City Council.

A youth development and education program coordinator at Centro Cultural de Washington County, Godinez-Valencia said didn't expect to ever run for elected office as recently as a few years ago.

"For so long it felt like I was waiting for my political knight in shining armor to come and fight for everything I believed in," Godinez-Valencia said.

Before coming to Centro Cultural, she was a physics research assistant at Goucher College in Baltimore, where she also received her bachelor's degree in computer science and physics in 2017.

She said watching both the changing politics of the country in the lead up to the 2016 election and the demographics of her hometown of Cornelius she grew more motivated to be involved in local government.

"I felt like no one was listening to logic and facts anymore. And watching Cornelius really grow and develop, watching all the gentrification that has happened, watching my community members have to move away — I'm thankful that (President Donald J. Trump) lit this fire under my belly that I didn't have before," Godinez-Valencia said.

She said she looks forward to working to bring more affordable housing into Cornelius, adding that long-time residents of the area should be able to afford new housing in the city.

Recognizing the imperative all communities have to fight climate change, Godinez-Valencia said she hopes to help make more city energy sources come renewable resources.

"This race has really changed the way that I think our community members will interact with politics," she said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated as of Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 4.


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