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WESLACO, RGV – Joe Garcia, a lobbyist who specializes in helping clients on the South Texas border, has been added to the all-star lineup of speakers for next Tuesday’s Legislative Forum at the Weslaco Public Library Auditorium.

The forum, hosted by the Rio Grande Guardian and Futuro RGV, is being held to help craft the Rio Grande Valley’s regional agenda for the 85th Legislative Session, which starts in Austin on Jan. 10, 2017. (RSVP Here)

Joe Garcia
Joe Garcia

Valley legislators and their staff have been invited to attend the forum, as have city and county leaders from across the region. There will be a question and answer segment after the presentations. The event is open to the general public and is free to attend. Doors open at 5:45 p.m. Forum will start at 6:30 p.m.

Five speakers are already confirmed: Veronica Gonzales of UT-Rio Grande Valley, Mike Seifert of RGV Equal Voice Network, Sergio Contreras of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, Ron Garza of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, and Matt Ruszcak of Rio South Texas Economic Council.

“We have invited speakers who represent the major regional entities in the Rio Grande Valley. We want to learn more about the big regional issues that have shaped their legislative agenda,” said Rio Grande Guardian editor Steve Taylor.

“Now, we are delighted to add Joe Garcia to our list of speakers. Joe is an experienced lobbyist for South Texas who understands how the Legislature works. He will kick off our event by setting the scene for the 85th Legislature, giving his insight and analysis on how big the state budget might be, the political makeup of the House and Senate and how the Valley delegation might fare.”

Over the years, Joe Garcia and the Garcia Group have represented entities such as the Texas Border Coalition, the City of McAllen, Brownsville Public Utilities Board, South Texas College and Willacy County. “We value our broad expertise in numerous policy areas and our network with related agencies and other stakeholders that affect our clients,” said Garcia, who is a former chief of staff for state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.

Here is Joe Garcia’s biography:

Founder, Joe Garcia, has spent over 20-years as a government and public affairs consultant working with corporations, associations, coalitions and public entities.

He specializes in issues along and impacting the Texas-Mexico border. Mr. Garcia has been recognized for his work in coordinating with South Texas Legislators to secure $4 million in state appropriations for the City of McAllen as well as an additional $3.5 million for a rural technology center for South Texas College in Rio Grande City.

He also has been successful in working with local governments in major cities like Austin and San Antonio to advocate for clients like Yellow Cab.

Prior to opening his governmental affairs business, Joe worked for decades in both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate. As Chief of Staff to South Texas Senator Eddie Lucio, Joe was responsible for coordinating efforts among members of the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, and stakeholders in order to pass significant pieces of legislation.

His unique experience and familiarity of the rules of the Senate and the House along with his extensive network of contacts throughout state government makes Joe an effective and successful advocate for all his clients. Joe expertise includes work in the areas of: Municipal Policy; Transportation Policy; Higher Education Policy; and Insurance.

Futuro RGV interim president Nedra Kinerk said the Nov. 15 forum will see the official debut of the group. The group’s new banner was displayed at a recent forum on the Hidalgo County Healthcare District issue but that event was hosted by Futuro McAllen.

“We cannot think of a better subject with which to officially launch Futuro RGV than the Rio Grande Valley’s regional legislative agenda. That is what we hope to achieve at our forum in Weslaco. We have invited the most recognized regional groups to tell us what their agenda is for the next legislative session. We will then invite the audience to ask questions. At the end of the evening we hope to have a clear picture of what the Valley’s agenda is for the 85th Legislature,” Kinerk said.

Kinerk said Futuro board members have been thinking about launching a Valley-wide civic group for some time. “We think we can build on the success we have achieved in McAllen with Futuro McAllen, developing a strong, well-respected and non-partisan civic group that cares about important, quality of life, issues. Our goal is to do the same with our RGV neighbors on a Valley-wide level. We believe our voice will be stronger and more effective when we are united.”

Kinerk said other organizations and institutions that wish to participate in developing the Valley’s legislative agenda for 2017 are welcome to display their material on tables outside the auditorium.

Speaking at a recent McAllen Economic Development Corporation meeting, David Girault, a board member of Futuro RGV, said he hopes Valley legislators or their staff will attend the forum, listen to the presentations and give input on the issues raised.

“Following the forum, our goal is to put together a White Paper document that will reflect the Rio Grande Valley’s legislative agenda for next year,” Girault said.

For more information about the forum call David Girault of Futuro RGV at (956) 639-2702 or Patricia Fogarty of the Rio Grande Guardian at (956) 961-4880. For sponsorship and display booth opportunities call Nedra Kinerk of Futuro RGV at (956) 330-2071 or Shon Gonzalez of the Rio Grande Guardian at (956) 970-2966.