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Jewish scientist Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo set to become mayor of Mexico City

Critics are concerned by her close ties to leftist presidential election frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

Supporters of Mexico's presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at a rally at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City, on June 27, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / RONALDO SCHEMIDT)
Supporters of Mexico's presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at a rally at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City, on June 27, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / RONALDO SCHEMIDT)

With a 20-point lead in the polls ahead of Sunday’s vote, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo looks poised to become the mayor of Mexico City in a race in which five of the seven candidates are women.

“Just because I might look like a skinny scientist doesn’t mean I’m not going to crack down on crime here. I will,” the 55-year-old recently told the crowd at a rally in the capital.

Sheinbaum Pardo is a respected scientist and engineer who spent four years as a PhD student in California. Up until three years ago she worked as an environmental engineer at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

One of her supporters, 86-year-old Zoyla Zamudio, told NPR that it is exciting that women no longer feel bound by gender stereotypes, and are now breaking into the political arena.

Mexico City mayoral candidate Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo (CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikipedia)

“We are no longer just housewives who stay at home and wash and iron,” she said. “Sheinbaum is a very qualified But hiswoman. She knows a lot of things.

“I’m sure she knows how to wash and iron, too,” Zamudio added.

Some of Sheinbaum Pardo’s critics are apparently concerned by her close ties to leftist presidential election frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Like all the other candidates, Lopez Obrador is pledging to fight corruption and bring change to Mexico as well as harshly criticizing US President Donald Trump’s policies against migrants and Mexico. But his rivals say he could set the country back decades with an interventionist economic policy.

Lopez Obrador served as mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, and nominated Sheinbaum Pardo to the position of environment minister for the city. When he formed the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) in 2014, Sheinbaum Pardo joined the party.

Voters “see me as a reflection of him,” Sheinbaum Pardo, who is Jewish, acknowledged, according to a Science report.

In 2015 she became head of government in the southern Mexico City district of Tlalpan, an area routinely plagued by water crises. Now, Sheinbaum Pardo has made water and transportation key pillars of her manifesto.

Mexico goes to the polls on Sunday to elect a whopping 18,000 posts at all levels of government, according to the country’s National Electoral Institute. The elections are Mexico’s largest ever and have become a referendum on corruption, graft and other tricks used to divert taxpayer money to officials’ pockets and empty those of the country’s poor.

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