In an unprecedented election in Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo has made history. Taking home between 47.5 and 55.5 percent of the vote, Sheinbaum is the first woman and first Jewish person elected as mayor of Mexico City – one of the largest cities in North America. Though Rosario Robles served as the city’s interim mayor, Sheinbaum is the first elected to the office.
Her win comes in a year that saw many female candidates. As many as 3,000 women ran in local and state elections, as well as for Mexico’s legislature. The media dubbed this shifting moment in politics as “el año de la mujer.” Upon winning, she said, “We are going to lead a democratic government that makes this city a city of rights – a city that promotes social rights and that respects the human rights and dignity of the people.”
While there’s excitement for Sheinbaum – a member of the Movimiento Regeneración Nacional – there’s also criticism of her ties to leftist populist (and Mexico’s next president) Andrés Manuel López Obrador. With Claudia not taking office until December 1, here are five things you should know about CDMX’s next mayor.
She is Jewish.
Sheinbaum’s grandparents emigrated from Lithuania and Bulgaria, and she identifies as Jewish. “We celebrated all the Jewish holidays at my grandparents’ house,” she recently told an audience.
She has a background in energy engineering.
Up until three years ago, Claudia Sheinbaum worked as an environmental engineer at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). As a matter of fact, she comes from a family of scientists: Her mother is a chemist and her brother is a physicist. Sheinbaum, who received a masters and doctorate in energy engineering at UNAM, has touted her background as an asset. “Training in physics makes you always look for the root causes. Why is something happening? That’s fundamental for politics,” she said, according to Science Mag. “And then engineering is much more focused on the ‘how.’ How can I solve it?”
She’s also a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and she previously belonged to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Mexico City is located on a former lake that the Spanish drained. This has made the city susceptible to strong earthquakes. “We’ve overexploited the aquifer, and as a result, the city is sinking,” she added.
But she's been involved in politics for a long time.
In 2015, she became the president of the Tlapan neighborhood in Mexico City and also served as Mexico City’s environment minister under AMLO’s mayoral term. There, she oversaw the construction of the second floor of Periférico and the introduction of the Metrobus.
But she’s been involved in politics for even longer than that. In the 1980s, as a student activist, she helped start the first left-wing opposition party, Partido de la Revolución Democrática.
She's one of the first to join Morena.
When AMLO founded Movimiento Regeneración Nacional – aka Morena – she was one of the first to join the party. (She and AMLO reportedly met through a family friend.) The party is smaller than PRI and PAN, and AMLO has seemed to unite groups of people that don’t necessarily mesh. But as the party pushes for change, it has made its presence known in the country.
Families in Mexico City brought charges against her.
When an earthquake devastated Mexico in September, Sheinbaum was heavily criticized after a school in her district collapsed and killed 19 students and seven adults. Families of the victims brought criminal charges against her after it was revealed that the local government had given construction permits to the school. Though she denies responsibility, those who were affected want justice.