AUSTIN, Texas - Sergeant Tonya Nixon is making history.
“I am the first Black woman to run and win a seat of constable in Travis County,” she said.
Nixon will oversee precinct one, an area she is all too familiar with, as it's where she is from. A constable is charged with many tasks in their community.
“We are licensed peace officers, so we do civil and criminal process. We serve papers, sell property to settle judgments and we do a lot of community outreach,” she said. She says the work is not a walk in the park. People probably think civil is easy, but civil involves disrupting people's livelihoods.
She is taking office during a time when trust in any law enforcement is quivering in many communities. She feels the road to making amends, begins with electing a familiar face this, in the wake of a newly elected woman of color as the United States vice-president.
“We still have a lot of African-Americans in precinct one. I want to show other African-American young girls and boys that you can still achieve a lot, if you have heart and passion go for what you know,” said Nixon.
Most importantly, she believes she can relate to her community.
“I’ve seen a lot of things. I've been through a lot of stuff. The reason I ran was to encourage people who have shared experiences like me not to be afraid to run. My biggest thing is dismantling the school to prison pipeline. I've had my own experience with that. My son is a convicted felon and so I’m very heavy on that. I believe in giving people second chances,” she said.
When the pandemic hit, the city placed a hold on evictions which still stands as of today. The constable-elect is lately tasked with communicating tenant's rights and enforcing laws if landlords try to illegally evict during the pandemic.
“I politely explain to them the requirements and prerequisites of when evictions can be done right now. The only way you can evict someone right now is if there is an immediate threat, danger to a person or property,” she said.
Nixon hopes to make big changes while in office. “I plan to make sure all deputies have their mental health certification and possibly create a crisis intervention team which goes along with community policing,” she said.
She ultimately strives to be a beacon of hope for all women in her community, not just those of color.