Lupe Valdez became the first Latina sheriff in the country, and one of the first LGBTQ women to hold such a role, when she won the role in 2004. When she quit to run for governor, she became the first openly LGBTQ woman to win a major party’s gubernatorial nomination, too.
Valdez, of Mexican descent, and her seven siblings, grew up poor with parents who were migrant workers. Her father was later employed by San Antonio as a ditch digger.
She worked her way through college and graduate school and then joined the Army, a closeted LGBTQ woman of color in the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” era. She rose to the rank of captain.
She then went on to a 30-year career as a federal agent for US Customs and Border Protection and then the Department of Homeland Security, focusing on fraud and drug cases. FInally, she made history as the first openly LGBTQ Latina sheriff in the nation, a role she held until stepping down to run, unsuccessfully, against incumbent Greg Abbott.
Governor of Vermont
Status: Lost general election