On the night of December 8, history was made in Fremont.
Teresa Cox was sworn in as the first African-American Councilmember in the city’s 64 years of existence.
During the Zoom meeting where the swearing-in took place, many community members flooded in to congratulate Cox and wish her all the best. Even Congressman Ro Khanna was present to speak and honor Cox’s achievement.
As an Ohlone College Trustee for the last 12 years, Cox has been dedicated to enhancing educational outcomes for students while ensuring inclusion and diversity on campus. And in that time, she has fiercely demonstrated strong leadership, building a reputation based on her commitment to community and integrity.
Cox comes from a family of impact-driven pioneers. Back in the 1800s, her great grandparents helped African-American leader and educator Booker T. Washington raise money for the establishment of Tuskegee University. Her great grandfather Charles Calvin Pettey was a bishop and preached at the Zion church in San Francisco. And her great grandmother Sarah Dudley Pettey was a well-known women’s suffrage leader and activist, committed to paving the way toward gender and racial equality.
Both of Cox’s parents were educators. Her mother was even President of a teachers’ union, and also appeared on TV commercials to promote arts and education.
“It’s a legacy of my family from multiple generations, working in the community,” said Cox.
Just a few weeks ago, Cox stepped down from the Ohlone Community College Board in order to take on her new responsibilities on the Fremont City Council. She felt some sadness over leaving behind the seat she’d held for over a decade, but she knows she’s at the start of another exciting journey.
“I spent 12 years working with the wonderful people there at Ohlone College, working to make sure education is equal access…and that we had good quality education for people to get jobs. It’s been an amazing 12 years,” said Cox, who had served as the Board’s Vice Chair. “I share with them this victory of going to Council; Ohlone College has shared in this victory. We worked together, we did this together.”
In becoming the first African-American Fremont Councilmember, Cox has most certainly broken barriers. Doing so seems to be a pattern in her life, for Cox was also the first African-American woman to earn a degree in Nuclear Engineering in the United States. She graduated from Northwestern University.
“I may be of African-American descent,” Cox noted, “but I’m here for all people, to work with all people.”
Now that she is officially a Fremont City Councilmember, Cox hopes to focus on working toward COVID-19 economic relief and recovery. This includes ensuring everyone is safe and can get access to testing. She also wants to find ways to help people who have lost their jobs, and to also support small businesses so they can get up and running again.
Cox is also committed to ensuring that Public Safety is strong and that first responders have all the resources they need to provide community protection.
“They’re at the forefront of some of this activity with people getting sick with COVID-19,” said Cox. “I want to make sure it’s safe here in Fremont. Safety for everyone. And zero tolerance for racism.”
Cox has been working throughout the Silicon Valley in executive leadership positions for a number of years. She’s currently one of the executives for Procurement in the County of Santa Clara, focused on the overwriting of 110 county buildings and 3 county hospitals.
For fun, Cox loves working out, traveling, being with friends and family, going to sporting events, and doing all she can to serve the community.
“I always try to have the most fun every day…whether it’s work or switching off from work to do other responsibilities,” said Cox.
She has two children — her son David is 20, and is a Finance Major in his junior year at Cal State East Bay, and her daughter Jackie, 15, is a high school sophomore.
“My commitment is to work hard for all Fremont residents to build a better community together,” said Cox. “Thank you to the community and to all the volunteers and everyone else for helping to make this happen.”