BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Retiring state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., fears Cameron County may struggle to secure its legislative agenda items in the upcoming session due to a lack of experience within its delegation.

Three of the four lawmakers representing the county are coming in as freshmen. They are state Sen. Morgan LaMantia, a Democrat from South Padre Island, and state Reps. Erin Gamez, D-Brownsville, and Janie Lopez, R-San Benito.

The only member of the Cameron County delegation with experience is state Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-La Joya. 

Lucio spoke recently at a Despierta Brownsville breakfast event hosted by the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce. During his remarks he spoke about getting legislation passed because of his tenure. He is currently the third longest serving member in the Texas Senate. 

“Of course it’s going to be tough,” Lucio said, when asked by the Rio Grande Guardian about the lack of seniority within the Cameron County delegation. 

“I remember when I started in the Texas House in January, 1987. I walked on the floor of the House, I didn’t know anyone, not even my own colleagues in the Valley. I didn’t know them.”

Lucio said he immediately set about learning who was in the Rio Grande Valley delegation. 

“I had to start from from ground level and I had to start in my own home base of the Valley and work from there. But I quickly was able to learn everybody’s name by walking up and down the aisles. Every day I would walk up and down, up and down every aisle on the floor of the House to greet my fellow House members.”

Lucio said by doing this he learned all the names of the lawmakers that served in the 70th Legislature.

“And those names stuck. I thought I was going to hopefully be there for a while but but, again, wrong. God had other plans for me and I moved on to the Senate chamber. But some of the people I met, like Todd Hunter, who became a brother, a Republican brother in Christ, stood out. He’s from Corpus Christi and we are still in constant communication.”

Lucio said it will be tough for Cameron County because, in one fell swoop it is losing the seniority established by himself, his son, state Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-San Benito, and state Rep. Alex Dominguez, D-Brownsville.

Unless a recount changes things, LaMantia will succeed Lucio as the member for Senate District 27. Texas House District 38 was represented by Rep. Lucio but he resigned a few months ago, to be replaced by Gamez. Dominguez did not seek re-election in Texas House District 37. Instead, he challenged unsuccessfully for Senate District 27. He will be succeeded by Lopez.

“It is going to be tough for this (Cameron) county and if you’re in the opposite party and you don’t want to reach across the aisle it will be even tougher,” Sen. Lucio said.

“But, I suspect we have some very smart young ladies, all three, two state representatives and a senator, that are going to rise to the occasion. I believe that they have what it takes.”

Lucio sends his regards to the three freshmen lawmakers.

“I wish them well and if they need my advice, they have my number.”

Texas Neighbors Care

As for Sen. Lucio, he plans to start a new ministry, Texas Neighbors Care.

“I plan to start a ministry and try to identify all children, young men and women who are eighth, ninth, and tenth graders who have thoughts of dropping out of high school and not finishing their schooling,” Lucio said.

“I would like very much to know who they are. I would like very much to have an opportunity to sit down and talk to them and talk to the parents. One parent, two parents, or no parents. Talk to family members, talk to them about how important they are to society, how important they are to God and that we’re here to support them.”

Lucio said the ministry will help such students with mentoring and supplies.

“If they need shoes, if they need clothes, if they need school supplies, whatever it is they need, I intend to have a nonprofit by the name of Texas Neighbors Care that will address those issues,” Lucio said.

Lucio will also devote time to a few companies that have asked for his help. But, he said, he will work for them as a consultant, not as a registered lobbyist.

“I am going to be working, representing two or three small companies or organizations. But, I really want to make an effort to save young people from slipping through the cracks of life,” Lucio said.

“I don’t want to see that happen to anyone. When you’re pro-life, as I am, those lives matter. At-risk kids really matter to me because they can they can turn out to be the CEO for this Brownsville Chamber. If they lack food, if they lack anything, it’s up to us as a society.”

Lucio said he will be asking for donations, large or small.

“We always say, it takes it takes a community to raise a child and that is true. I am looking for financial contributions. Even if it is only $5, that’s monumental towards trying to help the students, especially when 1,000 people give $5 or 10,000 people give $5.”

Lucio added: “Don’t cut yourself short in making sure you make an impact. God is wanting us to do that and I am not going to allow my life to go a day without trying to reach out and make a difference to someone.”

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