|MISSION, December 11 - Former Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair Dolly Elizondo-Garcia is not running for the Texas House of Representatives after all.
The land developer and real estate broker said health issues played a major part in her decision not to file for Texas House District 36, which is held by state Rep. Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission.
“I have encountered some health issues that require that I curtail my workload. I remain fully active and involved in the political arena of South Texas. However, these health issues will take critical time away from my campaign and, should I be elected by the voters of District 36, away from the job of State Representative. I expect to fully resolve my health challenges, but until I do I must, with great sadness, withdraw from this race,” Elizondo-Garcia told the Guardian.
Back in August, Elizondo-Garcia said she would be running for HD 36. “I have been involved a lot in the local community and I believe this is the next step,” Elizondo-Garcia said at the time. “I really believe there is a lack of advocacy for issues that really mean something to the constituents of House District 36, such as access to healthcare, education, and women’s issues. The representative we have is not advocating for us. There are some gaps there in House District 36 that needs filling in and it is just not getting done.”
On Monday, the deadline day for candidates filing for the March, 2014, primaries, Elizondo-Garcia issued this statement to the Guardian:
“As a long-time political activist in South Texas, I have taken the needs of our South Texas population deep into my heart. That desire to improve the educational, business, social and quality of life environment in South Texas has often driven me to accept challenges that require my total commitment and dedication. It was with that spirit and drive that I chose to run for the District 36 State Representative position in the 2014 Democratic Primary.
“Having served as the Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chair from 2008 to 2012, I learned first-hand the need for strong, decisive leadership in the Texas House of Representatives. This is a critical time for the state and our region. Health care, jobs and education are among the most pressing issues facing our region and the entire state. It was after much thought and discussion with my family, supporters and community members that I announced my candidacy.
“In announcing my candidacy, I fully understood the tremendous time and commitment that the District 36 State Representative position requires. As in all my other endeavors, I only accept challenges with the full intention of devoting all the time and resources necessary to fully meet the obligations of the job.
“In recent weeks, I have encountered some health issues that require that I curtail my workload. I remain fully active and involved in the political arena of South Texas. However, these health issues will take critical time away from my campaign and, should I be elected by the voters of District 36, away from the job of State Representative. I expect to fully resolve my health challenges, but until I do I must, with great sadness, withdraw from this race.
“Today, I am announcing to my friends and supporters that I will no longer be a candidate for the District 36 State Representative position in 2014.Still, the future holds many opportunities for my continued political involvement, and I will remain a staunch Democratic Party supporter who will find other ways to help serve the needs of our community.”
While Elizondo-Garcia has pulled out of the race for HD 36, Rep. Muñoz still has a challenger in the March 4 primary. Mari Regalado, a business owner and bilingual business advisor and counselor from Pharr, has filed for the position.
Political analysts believe Muñoz, an attorney, is the favorite to win re-election. They point to the success Muñoz and the entire Rio Grande Valley legislative delegation had last session in passing legislation to create a new UT university and medical school. They also point out that Muñoz has traditionally had the support of the business community and the Austin lobby.
“With all of us working together, I believe that we will usher in a new era of prosperity for the Valley as we implement the successes won at the Legislature this session: the university merger and medical school, the overweight vehicle corridor that will boost our economy, the expansion and designation of I-69, support of women’s healthcare and enhancing our education system,” Muñoz told the Guardian in September.
“This is the foundation we are building to support our quality of life, and it’s proof positive that hard work, good public policy and partnerships can raise our standard of living.”
Regalado, however, believes she will ultimately triumph through a grassroots campaign that includes holding a number of house meetings every week, Regalado calls them cafecitos.
“The cafecitos are going well. It is a great way to learn about the real needs and aspirations of the people of District 36. People want change. They want someone who will represent all the people of the district and they know me as a hardworking and dedicated volunteer in our community.”
District 36 comprises all of Granjeno, Hidalgo, and Palmview, 25 percent of McAllen, 76 percent of Pharr, and 70 percent of Mission. Its voting age population is 90.8 percent Hispanic. According to the American Community Survey, in 2011 the per capita income in District 36 was $13,080. The same survey found that 57,829 people in the district lived in poverty and 38,901 did not speak English well or at all.