The first woman Democrat elected in Collin County and the first Romanian-American elected in Texas. Among the youngest 15% of the Texas House of Representatives and among 30% of state representatives who are women. Rep. Mihaela Plesa marks a new chapter for the Texas House of Representatives.
“Being the first generation daughter of immigrants, I always heard about the horror of communism and how hard it was for my family to fight not just for their rights and for their voice to be heard for their children and their community in general,” Plesa says. “So, there’s been that political thread that was always in our family.”
Though Plesa was always interested in politics, it’s not where she started her career. She founded a fashion merchandising and design company with a friend and ran it for over 10 years.
The company created inclusive, female-focused products manufactured in Texas. Even then, Plesa understood how her business was connected to local government.
“I saw how hard it was, for instance, for a women-led business to get financial backing and how hard it was for us to become a thriving business in regulated markets,” she says.
After the 2020 presidential election, Plesa was inspired to do more than just protesting and voting.
“I saw more partisanship. I saw more political bickering,” Plesa says. “And I was really called to see how we can heal some of those divides.”
She started climbing the ladder as a legislative staffer and legislative director before running for office, becoming the first female Democrat to win Collin County.
“I was kind of seen as an underdog coming into the race,” Plesa says. “I didn’t have an established financial backing. I wasn’t a household name. But I think that we really took the moment and took what people were feeling at the doorsteps and turned it into a movement.”
Plesa beat Jamee Jolly in the race for the District 70 seat in the Texas House of Representatives, winning a tight campaign focused on expanding women’s rights, reducing recapture payments by public schools and improving access to health care.
“Our race in Collin County was considered the most competitive race out of the 150 other seats in the Texas House of Representatives because of the changing dynamics of not only the district but the county,” Plesa says. “We had seen that the county, even though it’s a Republican-led county, has been growing in diversity. They have really strong public education roots. We were able to meet voters and constituents where they were and really talked to them about the issues.”
Plesa was the first freshman member to pre-file a bill, HB 733, which focused on health literacy in the state’s health plan. Other bills focused on environmental regulation, public health, responsible gun control, reproductive health, community safety and public education.
Moving forward, Plesa is focused on reducing school-related property tax recapture and ensuring that students feel safe in school.
“Once we fix one problem, we’ve got to move on to the next,” Plesa says. “I’m up for the challenge of finding new and unique ways to make sure that Texans are served wholeheartedly with integrity in the State House.”