McALLEN, RGV – Judging by the noise generated by their supporters at the recent Hidalgo County Democratic Party Ballot Bash event, the candidates for Texas House District 36 may be embarking on a boisterous election campaign.
State Rep. Sergio Muñoz, an attorney, is being challenged in the Democratic Party primary by insurance agent Abraham Padron. The winner of the March 1, 2016, primary will represent District 36 in the Texas House of Representatives because there are no Republican challengers.
Both Muñoz and Padron spoke briefly from the podium at the Ballot Bash event, which was held at the Doubletree Hotel in McAllen last Monday evening.
Muñoz, D-Mission, went first, pointing out that he has served three terms in the Texas House. “We have tried to work on issues that impact the district, such as healthcare, education, transportation, border infrastructure, planning for the next ten years. We are ready to go to work and help good Democrats do good things,” Muñoz said.
In his remarks at the Ballot Bash event, Padron said he has been a Democrat all his life. “We do need change and we going to bring change. We don’t need to just say we are going to do things. We have got to get them done and that is what I am here for,” Padron said.
District 36 covers 70 percent of Mission, 76 percent of Pharr, 25 percent of McAllen, and 100 percent of Hidalgo, Palmview and Granjeno. According to State of Texas statistics, it is 92.7 percent Hispanic.
In an interview at the Ballot Bash event, Muñoz spoke about legislation he plans to introduce next session which, if voters approve, will require the Governor of Texas to make 50 percent of his or her appointments to state boards and commissions women.
“We need equal representation on all of our boards and state agencies. We need boards that are reflective of our population,” Muñoz said, pointing out that his proposals will have to be approved by 75 percent of the Legislature because they require a constitutional amendment. The voters of Texas would then have to approve the constitutional amendment.
“The power of the governor to appoint is granted by the Constitution. So, the only way we can make any changes is by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot and that is what we are going to work on,” Muñoz said.
“An initiative like this, who could be against it? Who would be against equal representation for our boards and state agencies. When we are not in session these boards and agencies have a lot of power. They are either implementing statute or making policy changes. We need equality for everybody.”
Muñoz said he is not daunted by having to get two-thirds of his colleagues in the Legislature to pass his measure. He said he starting his outreach effort in the coming weeks. “We will need to get the support of two-thirds of the Legislature to get it on the ballot. We are excited. I think it is a bold move, a bold initiative. But that does not mean we cannot do it.”
Muñoz is the son of Sergio Muñoz, Sr., a local healthcare businessman and former State Representative of District 36. His mother is Connie Muñoz, a long-time educator from the Mission area, and his sister, Marla Muñoz-Lopez, is a healthcare professional. He attributes his early success in life to the values taught by his family.
Muñoz attended Mission High School and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Business Administration. He then earned his law degree with honors at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University, graduating magna cum laude.
In addition to his service in the legislature, Muñoz is a civil and criminal law attorney and sole principal of the Muñoz Law Firm, serving the South Texas region. He served as a Municipal Judge in Palmview, Texas and is a member of the Hidalgo County Bar Association.
The Rio Grande Guardian also interviewed Padron at the Ballot Bash event. Padron said he knows District 36 well having lived in Mission, south McAllen and Pharr for most of his life. In Pharr he lived on The Plantation South. “The Plantation has a special place in my heart. Even though I have now moved to McAllen, the residents of the Plantation asked me to stay on as president of the homeowners’ association.”
Padron immigrated to the United States from Mexico at the age of seven. He graduated from Mission High School in 1986, and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Texas-Pan American in 1991. He has been in the insurance business for 18 years, offering a full range of insurance plans. He has over 19,000 clients, 11 offices stretching from Brownsville to Laredo, and employs 40 agents.
“I have put my nose to the ground and worked really hard and built a good little business that has been good for myself and my family and my employees. Now is the time for me to give back to the community. All this time I have been protecting this community, making sure businesses and families are protected from catastrophes. We need somebody in the Texas House with business experience, someone who has been in the trenches,” Padron said.
Asked what he is hearing from the people of District 36, Padron said: “They want someone who is going to go to the Capitol not just to show up but someone who can make a positive difference in their lives.”
Padron said of 300,000 or so residents of District 36, only about 12,700 vote in a presidential year. He said he wants to increase this figure and plans to do it by reaching out to young people who might not show much interest in the political process. He said his outreach efforts will include the use of social media.
“It is time to have someone with conviction, someone who not only talks the talk but walks the walk. I have no hidden agenda. I am a small business owner that wants to give back to my community. I want to serve my community and do the right thing by my constituents. The people I talk to are telling me they are ready for something different.”