RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas – Rio Grande Guardian editor Steve Taylor recently met up with educator, organizer and activist Tannya Benavides from Laredo. 

A leader in Laredo’s No Border Wall Coalition, Benavides is running in the Democratic Party primary for Congressional District 28.

She is a graduate of Texas State University and Johns Hopkins University.

Tannya Benavides

Taylor wanted to meet up with Benavides after she was denied the opportunity to explain her campaign at a planned candidate forum that was to be hosted by  RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Taylor was due to moderate the forum, which was scheduled to be held at South Texas College’s Rio Grande City campus. Benavides confirmed her attendance at the forum but her opponents in the CD 28 primary, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar and Jessica Cisneros signaled they would not attend. Reluctantly, RGVHCC President Cynthia Sakulenzki had to cancel the forum because the group has a policy of not holding such forums when only one candidate is available. To compensate for the fact that no CD 28 candidate forum was to be held in the Rio Grande Valley this primary season, Taylor scheduled a Meet the Candidate podcast with Benavides.

Benavides said the goal of her campaign was to uplift all the voices in CD 28. She said that, if elected, she would represent all residents in the district. “For far too long, South Texans have been sidelined in the political process by representatives who do not understand the everyday experiences of working-class families or share their community’s interests,” Benavides said.

Benavides said her platform includes Medicare For All, advancing Green New Deal legislation, immigration reform, worker’s rights, investment in infrastructure, protections for seasonal migrant workers, educational justice, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Podcast:

Benavides provided the Rio Grande Guardian with a copy of her biography.

Biography:


My name is Tannya Benavides, and I am running to represent Texas’s 28th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am the daughter of immigrants and the oldest sister of nine. My parents have worked tirelessly to give us the opportunities we have, and I am thankful for everything they did to ensure we have a better future. As a first-generation American, I have experienced first-hand the sacrifices that must be made by working-class families to achieve the “American dream.”

I’m a proud product of Laredo public schools and as such, I have witnessed the selflessness educators lead their careers with. When my parents first moved us to my hometown of Laredo, my teachers had an instrumental role in making us feel like part of the community. Their commitment to my family’s success is what inspired me to become an educator myself. Growing up in El Barrio Azteca, as I watched my parents work day in and day out to make ends meet, I focused on my education and setting a good example for my siblings.

Taking after the sacrifices my family made and the support my teachers gave me, I went on to graduate from J.W. Nixon High School, obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Texas State University, and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. I made a career for myself as an educator and community organizer in Houston and New York City, fighting for my students and their families to ensure their voices were heard in the decisions affecting their daily lives.

My experience in community organizing led me back to El Barrio Azteca to join the fight against the border wall all along the Rio Grande in the southern border. Working in coalition with groups from San Diego, CA all the way to the Lower Rio Grande Valley as we faced a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, showed me that when people put their power together, we can accomplish big things for our communities. Now I’m ready to build on this collective power and bring the voices of South Texas to Washington, D.C.

Editor’s Note: Vanguard Academy student Lee Perez contributed to this podcast from Pharr, Texas.

Editor’s Note: Calling all candidates. To be featured in our Meet the Candidate series, either via podcast or a livestream on Facebook, call Steve Taylor.


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