McALLEN, RGV  The Border Texan of the Year Committee has named state Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., as Border Texan of the Year for 2017.

The committee cited Lucio’s leadership in legislation impacting education, healthcare and economic development, not just for the border region but also the state of Texas as a whole.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio

“Public service is time consuming and it is a tremendous sacrifice of time with family and friends and on top of that he has done a great deal for the border region and the state of Texas as a whole,” said former Hidalgo Mayor John David Franz, as he introduced the Border Texan Committee’s selection.

Lucio is the third longest serving legislator in the Texas Senate, behind only Sens. John Whitmire of Houston and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo. He chairs the Senate Committee of Intergovernmental Relations and is vice chair of the Senate Committee on Education. He is also a member of the Senate Committee on State Affairs and the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs & Border Security. He was recently bestowed the “Legislative Hero Award” by the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas for his work in aiding the families of fallen police officers.

Franz said Lucio has “championed” healthcare for children with disabilities, equity in public schools, and veteran’s issues throughout his time in the legislature. Additionally, he said, Lucio has made a big impact in improving access to higher education in the Valley. With the successful creation of colleges and universities in South Texas, such as the former University of Texas at Brownsville, Lucio reached the pinnacle of his education legislation with the  establishment of UT Rio Grande Valley and its four-year School of Medicine, Franz said.

Upon his announcement as the 2017 Border Texan of the Year, Lucio talked about one of his early appointments – president of the County Treasures Association in 1976.

“I have always had a special place in my heart for everyone, not just those in the district that I represent,” Lucio said.

“I was fortunate when I got elected, and I remember meeting a lot of the folks that are still here that came together to give me an opportunity to serve you as a state senator.

“There are so many people that are extremely deserving, and I know who they are. There are a lot of people who go out of their way to make a difference and I know that we are blessed with great leadership.”

Lucio added that the recognition is not just about him.

“I’m humbled and honored, but this is a celebration not really for me, it is a celebration of humanity and making a difference by working with one another and creating a better body of life for those that we live with and our surrounding communities right here in the Valley.”

Given that the Border Texan of the Year award announcement came on the same day as the presidential inauguration, Lucio offered a few words of advice about President Trump. Lucio encouraged the public and leaders to ‘give him a chance to prove himself.”

Lucio said he has prayed for Trump and prayed he has a “conversion of heart.”

“I prayed my rosary and I asked God to bless him and to hopefully have a conversion to heart where we felt there might be weakness so he can be inclusive, so he can be more understanding, and caring about those who were struggling, those that were hungry, and those that need his help. I prayed for him. And I continue to pray for him everyday.”