Texas Secretary of State and Border Commerce Coordinator Ruth Hughs is pictured with Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez and Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño at an RGVMPO meeting in April.

AUSTIN, Texas – Ruth Hughs is having to give up her role as Border Commerce Coordinator for Texas because she is resigning as Secretary of State.

The Texas Tribune reported Friday that Hughs is tendering her resignation as Secretary of State, effective May 31. That is the last day of the current legislative session. 

The Tribune notes that a secretary of state appointed in between regular legislative sessions is constitutionally required to leave office immediately if the Senate goes through an entire session without confirming them. The Senate Nominations Committee, chaired by Republican Dan Buckingham never took up Hughs’ nomination.

The Tribune went on to say that Hughs stayed out of the political fray when it came to elections and elections policy and kept a much lower profile during her time in office compared to predecessor David Whitley.

While that may be true, Hughs did not keep a low profile when it came to another of the secretary of state’s key duties – border trade.

Hughs chaired the Border Trade Advisory Committee, which played a key role in developing the Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan for the Texas Department of Transportation. She chaired the BTAC in her capacity as Texas’ Border Commerce Coordinator. 

After the master plan was finished, Hughs spoke highly of it at a Texas Transportation Commission meeting in Austin. She also promoted the plan in the Rio Grande Valley in April.

“The City of Pharr is proud to have welcomed Secretary of State Ruth Hughs at our recent RGVMPO Transportation Policy Committee meeting as we worked on implementing the Border Trade Master Plan,” said Pharr Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, MD. 

RGVMPO stands for Rio Grande Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization. Hernandez chairs the group.

“The RGVMPO had been proactive in collaborating with Secretary Hughs, our binational partners, and all our regional stakeholders throughout the entire BTMP process,” Hernandez told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“Visiting us in April was Secretary Hughs’ first post-COVID trip in her official capacity, as well as her first visit to the Rio Grande Valley, and we thank Secretary Hughs for highlighting the South Texas border region as a priority. She understood the importance of the economic lifeline that is trade and commerce at our Texas-Mexico ports of entry.”

During the April visit to the Valley, Secretary Hughs participated in a “fireside chat” with the Secretary of Economic Development of Tamaulipas, Carlos Garcia. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Secretary Hughs and Secretary Garcia “highlighted the mutually beneficial and interdependent trade relationship between Texas and Mexico and expressed their desire to strengthen it further.”

Secretary Hughs also visited the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge and met with the Rio Grande Valley Partnership at the McAllen Convention Center.

“We hosted Secretary Hughs to showcase the strengths of the RGV and highlight the growing economic development opportunities of our region,” said RGVP President Sergio Contreras. 

“Our business roundtable conversation focused on transportation and infrastructure projects, the $13.7B economic impact of healthcare/bioscience in our region, our close ties with Tamaulipas which are strengthened with the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.”

Contreras pointed out that goods that cross through the RGV from Mexico contribute $40 billion to the gross domestic product of the U.S. He said another area of discussion with Hughs was the “tremendous opportunity” to expand the aerospace industry in Cameron County.

In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott announcing her resignation as Secretary of State, Hughs said of her role as Border Commerce Coordinator:

“I am also proud of the work we have clone to strengthen our international relationships and facilitate business growth and trade. The friendships we enjoy with our international partners were instrumental in addressing needs that arose during the pandemic. Texas is better positioned today as a result of our perseverance and resilience during these challenging times. Thanks to your leadership, we remain globally competitive and continue to enjoy great economic growth.”

One of the few reporters to interview Hughs during her visit to the Valley in April was the Rio Grande Guardian’s Steve Taylor. Here is that in-depth interview:

Hughs said she was honored to serve as Secretary of State.

“It has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime to have been appointed by Governor Abbott to serve as Texas’ 113th Secretary of State,” said Secretary Hughs. 

“During the course of my tenure, I have been humbled to work alongside so many others in improving the lives of all Texans through fostering and strengthening our international relationships, facilitating business growth and trade, overseeing the conduct of our elections, and promoting civic participation. I am proud of the work that this office has accomplished, and by working collaboratively, we have helped to build a brighter future for all Texans.”

Governor Rick Abbott said that throughout her time as Secretary of State, Highs has been a “faithful servant” to the people of Texas.

“I thank her for her commitment to our state. Ruth’s exceptional leadership has helped strengthen the Texas brand on the international stage and grow our businesses and trade relationships around the world. Ruth also served as a trustworthy steward of our elections,” Abbott said.

“I am grateful for our collaboration over the past few years to build an even brighter future for the Lone Star State, and I wish her nothing but the best on her future endeavors.”

Prior to her appointment as Secretary of State, Secretary Hughs served as Chair and Commissioner Representing Employers at the Texas Workforce Commission, where she worked to foster opportunities for economic growth by partnering with the business community to provide employers with a variety of resources to expand their businesses. 

She also previously served at the Office of the Texas Attorney General as the Director of Defense Litigation, where she was responsible for the successful management and oversight of the civil litigation divisions representing agencies across the state. Before her tenure in public service, Hughs worked as a licensed attorney and was a small business owner.

Governor Abbott will nominate a successor to serve as Texas’ 114th Secretary of State.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read Secretary Hughs’ resignation letter.