Women govern some of the largest U.S. cities

Betsy Price is serving her fourth term as mayor of Fort Worth, Texas. She brings 17 years of experience as a businesswoman to one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. and a commitment to volunteerism with her “Week of Compassionate Service.”

But what may be more remarkable is the company she keeps. She is among nearly 300 women governing American cities with populations of more than 30,000. That’s about 21 percent of all mayors, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Illustration with drawings of five women mayors and their city names, over a map of the U.S. (State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)
(State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)

“Not only are we seeing some increases in the number of women holding office, but an increase in the diversity of women serving,” said Jean Sinzdak, the associate director of the center. She says American women from all political parties are running for political office in record numbers at the federalstate and local levels.

Drawing of Catherine Pugh (State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)

Get to know a few of these mayors:

Baltimore’s Catherine Pugh

Before she ran in 2016 for mayor of Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland, Pugh had success as a business developer, banker and broadcast reporter. And she previously served as a state senator, where she was known for her skills in uniting opposing political parties.

Pugh says her administration pursues “the kind of economic development that will bring prosperity to the whole city and not just a few isolated enclaves.”

Drawing of Jean Stothert (State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)Omaha’s Jean Stothert

A former nurse who is in her second term as mayor, Stothert is known for keeping a tight focus on the budget of Omaha, the largest city in Nebraska. She began her public service as a volunteer at her children’s school and next ran and won election to Omaha’s Board of Education and then City Council.

“One of my primary goals is to improve the taxpayer experience. I want every taxpayer who interacts with city government to have a positive experience,” Stothert says.

Fremont’s Lily MeiDrawing of Lily Mei (State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)

Before her election as mayor of Fremont, California, in 2016, Mei had a successful career in high-tech sales analysis and management. But she was also active in education. She headed the Asian Pacific Islander School Board Members Association for the state of California.

“I value the opportunity to be a role model for young women, especially in a city as diverse as Fremont, and am proud to be our city’s first minority mayor,” Mei says. Asian-Americans make up 50 percent of Fremont’s diverse population.

Drawing of LaToya Cantrell (State Dept./S. Gemeny Wilkinson)New Orleans’ LaToya Cantrell

As New Orleans celebrates its 300th anniversary in 2018, the Louisiana city also will inaugurate its first woman mayor in May.

The mayor-elect, long an advocate for public education, has helped some of the poorer neighborhoods in New Orleans. Cantrell says she wants “to make life better for everyone in every neighborhood of this city.”