One of Morgantown’s new council members brings a fresh perspective to the chamber.
Not only is Ixya Vega the youngest member of the Morgantown City Council ever, but she’s the only Latina to serve the city in this capacity as well. At 23, she offered herself up as a write-in candidate in the April 27 election to represent the Third Ward. And to her surprise, she won. She was convinced someone older than her, and white, would win instead.
When she called her parents in Chicago on election night, her father, a Mexican immigrant, said “Mija, what have you gotten yourself into?” Her mother, an immigrant from Guatemala, said “Yay, you won!”—without a real understanding of what she had won, Vega says with a chuckle.
She’s the second member of her family to attend college, and she chose WVU with purpose. She knew she wanted to have a different experience in her next phase of life, so she chose a location that offered an environment completely different from the Chicago neighborhood that raised her. There are big differences, she says. “Where I grew up, if you looked someone in the eye for too long, you’d probably end up in a fight. Here, people are warm and friendly, and I’ve enjoyed the meaningful conversations that I’ve had that have formed the way I see and care about West Virginia.”
Vega reported to her first council meeting July 6 and is already learning. She’s courageous and not afraid to speak her mind, and believes a lot of compromise is needed to make effective and progressive changes in Morgantown. She hopes to help move the needle.
Her immediate agenda includes helping to develop a smart plan for COVID relief money spending, getting free period products in city buildings, helping residents experiencing houselessness however she can, and making City Hall a place where other young people—especially those who look like her—feel they belong.
Morgantown residents should keep an eye on Vega. She’s got big ideas and the energy to match. Here’s hoping that the city is ready for the forward momentum she’ll inspire.