Portillo last week became the newest member of the Nelson City Council.
Portillo received 24 votes in the special election, which was conducted to fill the seat of former council member Larry Sellers, who resigned earlier this week.
Nelson has 724 registered voters that were eligible to vote in the election.
Portillo, who was sworn into power during the council meeting last Monday, said she’s excited to join the council.
“I’ve wanted to do this for quite a while, so I feel good about it,” she said.
Portillo qualified to run for the council last year, but was defeated in the general election.
Portillo said she is eager to work with the other council members, noting each of the members is working hard to pull the city together.
“I think we will be on the same page and get things done in Nelson,” she added.
The city has been in turmoil in the past few years.
Former Mayor David Leister resigned and is now the Republican nominee for the Pickens County tax commissioner race to be decided in November.
City Council member Martha Tipton is currently serving as mayor pro tem and a special election will take place in conjunction with the Nov. 6 general election.
The city recently learned it’s been in the red for the majority of the last 10 years and spent the last two months working on trimming its fiscal year 2013 budget, which passed the council on Monday.
Portillo said she also wants to help steer the city towards stronger financial ground.
Portillo said she decided to run for the City Council because she loves the city of Nelson, which sits on the Cherokee-Pickens border north of Ball Ground.
“I’m doing this truly for the betterment of the area,” she said “I live here and I love it here.”
Councilman Jackie Jarrett said he’s met Portillo on a couple occasions and noted he’s also ready to work with Portillo.
“I think she’s an all right person,” he added.
Portillo was raised in New York City, where she went on to study musical theater at the New York City School of Performing Arts.
Portillo’s family comes from Cuba and she spent many childhood holidays there, where she met her husband.
She was also a semi-professional ballroom dancer in Miami for 18 years
She got married to her husband, Eddie, in Cuba and they moved to the Miami area after dictator Fidel Castro came to power.
She and her family moved to the Laurel Lake subdivision off Canton Highway seven years ago and have been Nelson residents since.
Portillo, 71, has one son and three grandchildren.
Portillo said she hopes Nelson residents will give her a chance to help unite the city and move its business forward.
“I want them to see that I want the best for the city of Nelson,” she said. “I want the city to run like a city should run.”