PHARR, Texas – A South Texas education leader, Dr. Eliza Alvarado has filed to run for Congressional District 15 – which will likely be an open seat at the next election.
Alvarado won praise for her education work for Region One Education Service Center at a recent groundbreaking ceremony for a new UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Nursing campus being built in Pharr. Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez praised Alvarado’s great leadership.
CD 15 will likely be an open seat at the next election because the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, has been drawn into the neighboring seat to the east, Congressional District 34. Gonzalez, D-McAllen, is expected to announce on Saturday that he is running for CD 34.
The congressional boundary lines have been redrawn by the Republican-controlled State Legislature. The districts are reshaped every ten years to take into account population shifts recorded by the Census Bureau.
Republicans have made CD 34 more heavily Democrat and CD 15 Republican-leaning. If the 2020 presidential election had been held in the new-look CD 15, President Trump would have won by 2.8 percent. It has been a Democratic stronghold for decades. The new-look CD 15 stretches from the Rio Grande all the way north to Guadalupe County, north east of San Antonio. In Hidalgo County it includes Edinburg, Mission, Hidalgo, most of McAllen, and much of Pharr, as well as the western part of the county.
Dr. Alvarado was born in Rio Grande City and grew up in Citrus Bay, a mobile home park in Pharr. She earned a Bachelor’s in Government from Texas Woman’s University, and a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Dr. Alvarado, a Democrat, issued a news release Thursday to her announce her candidacy for CD 15.
She said her “vast experience” in public policy was forged when she worked in Washington, D.C. both for the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor. After this phase in her career she returned to the Rio Grande Valley.
“Once home, she made it a priority to increase voter registration and turnout in the region by helping to establish the non-partisan organization, Advocacy Alliance Center of Texas (AACT),” the news release states.
AACT, a nonprofit, encouraged Valley residents to register to vote. Alvarado prioritized young people. During presentations to students eligible to register to vote, Alvarado would joke about how she had gone to Washington, D.C., to further her education and for work, had come back, and still Sugar Road had not been paved. It has now.
Currently, Dr. Alvarado serves as the director of partnerships and career pathways at Region One Education Service Center (ESC), the largest ESC in the state overseeing eight diverse counties with approximately half a million students.
“My story is like many others, except in many ways it’s not. I went off to college and was given the opportunity to work for Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, who also represented the 15th Congressional District in Washington, DC. It is there where I learned how Congress works and how good legislation can positively impact the lives of everyday people,” Alvarado said.
Alvarado said Hinojosa encouraged her to continue her education. Heeding that advice she went on to earn a Master’s in Political Management from The George Washington University. She then moved on to work at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
“Nothing was ever given to me; less than one percent of Latinas earn their doctorate and I did it not only for me, but for the community I was going to serve – we deserve the best,” Alvarado said, in her campaign news release.
“When I went to Washington 20 years ago, my goal was always to learn as much as possible so I could come home and serve my community. Education was my great equalizer. I was fortunate to have the support of my parents, family, and mentors who encouraged and helped me earn my various degrees.”
Alvarado said many Valley students do not get such an opportunity and she plans to address that.
“It is unfortunate… that many young people in the state of Texas do not have the support they deserve to grow and reach their ultimate potential. Our economy is dependent on a vibrant workforce that begins with a great education or trade skills,” Alvarado said.
“Right now, we are facing workforce shortages, a lack of childcare, a healthcare crisis, a broken immigration system, and threats to our fundamental rights, like voting.”
Alvarado said that in her position at Region One, she has developed job training programs and obtained funding to help alleviate the region’s shortage of healthcare workers, particularly nurses.
“The key to solving these issues begins in Washington. The people of Texas have taught me so much, but now I am asking for the opportunity to take their voices, their solutions, and their concerns back to Washington,” Alvarado said.
“I have worked hard to make my community better, but I passionately believe that in Congress, I can be an even stronger advocate. I would be honored if the people of the 15th Congressional District would give me the opportunity to represent them. No one will work harder to make our region and our country stronger and more prosperous.”
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