RIO GRANDE CITY, RGV – In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, state District Judge Ana Lisa Garza has explained why she is running for Texas House District 31.
Here is the interview:
“I think I can make a difference. I bring a different perspective, having been on the bench for seven years, and before that practicing law for so many years. I have seen firsthand the issues that affect our community and the people that come through the courtroom have and I think I can do a great job. I know the teachers need raises, I know the schools are under-funded. I know our criminal justice system needs revamping. Why am I running? Where do I start, there’s so much.
“My experiences as a judge and my experiences growing up in Rio Grande, working at a theater when I was 14 years old, working at a fast food restaurant when I was 15 years old, working on the ranch every day with Dad and my brothers, fixing fences, seeing the cattle market prices fluctuate, working through college, working through law school. I think all of those help me bring a different perspective to the Legislature and help better represent the people in District 31.
“I am honored to have sat in the 229th judicial District Court for seven years. I am honored that I have the ability to run. It is not a decision I took lightly. You know it is hard to leave your comfort zone. People have been asking why now. Growing up in a bipartisan home, I have a brother who is a district judge in Victoria and he is a Republican. I have two brothers that work in the oil and gas sector and they have faced firsthand the job shortages, the lack of incentives for companies, small and large alike. Corporations big and small do not have enough incentives to come to our state and invest. That is a big problem, especially for people in our communities and District 31, like in Starr County, for example, we have a huge unemployment rate. A lot of lives were shattered by this latest downturn in the oil and gas industry.
“I have more than one teacher in the family. My Mom and Dad were educators their whole lives. My sister is a teacher in Pharr and I always hear her talk about her kids and her students and all they do is prepare for this test. She feels like the educational system has gotten away from teaching core values. Some of the kids don’t even know the national anthem. We need those perspectives in Austin. They will help me be a stronger and louder voice for District 31.
“I am also a landowner and a cattle raiser. I don’t hire anybody out to work my cattle. I do it with my significant other, Oscar Saenz. We have been in a relationship for over seven years. I have my kids, Jesse and Mike Alvarez, we are the workers of the ranch and that is the way it was when I was growing up. We were the workers of the ranch. There was no outside help. So, I feel I have a unique perspective, not only from the bench, but because of my life experiences. I just want a better future for our community. It is about the position. It is about the district.
“And when I say the position, I am not trying to cut anyone down. I want better for our community. I want District 31’s voice to be heard. And I think it hasn’t been for a while.”
Texas House District 31 comprises ten rural counties in South Texas – Atascosa, Brooks, Duval, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, LaSalle, Live Oak, McMullen, Starr and Willacy.
Garza is running in the Democratic Party primary next March. If he seeks re-election, her primary opponent will be state Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City.
Garza made her District 31 candidacy announcement surrounded by members of her family and friends on the steps of Starr County courthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017.
Here is her official statement:
“For the last seven years I have had the honor to serve Starr, Jim Hogg, and Duval Counties as your 229th District Court Judge. Of the numerous cases I have presided over – felony criminal, civil, and family law — I have worked hard to ensure that justice was served in every case. I wake up every morning proud to serve in the job you elected me to do.
“I have been fortunate to get to meet so many people during my two terms as Judge in the courtrooms, in the community, at official functions, in our schools, hospitals and places of worship. You have spoken to me about your concerns including job scarcity, crime, healthcare, education, business, infrastructure, our veterans, the justice system and our future–and our children’s future.
“I have made the very difficult decision of leaving this job that I love in order to continue to serve you in a position where I know I can speak for all of you.
“Today, I announce my candidacy for Texas State Representative House District 31.
“I have loved serving as your judge, but you need a voice in Austin now who will work to solve these problems, instead of accepting the status quo. As your judge, I know it is far too late to adequately deal with issues once they are in court. I have been on the bench–and in the trenches–fighting to deal with issues and problems that need to be dealt with before they get to any Court!
“I know and understand the issues facing our people in District 31.
“I worked alongside my father and grandfather burning prickly pear for our cattle during times of drought, branding, de-horning, de-worming cattle, clearing fields for seeding, fixing fences since I was a child. I started working at age fourteen in a fast food restaurant and a local theatre. I worked my way through college on university work-study programs and at local grocery markets and worked all through law school to ease the financial burden on my parents. Therefore, I understand the minimum-wage earners, the laborers, the students dependent on work-study programs and outside employment, all the while struggling to get a college education.
“As the daughter of life-long educators and ranchers — and the sister of an educator — I understand the issues faced by our teachers, who should be respected instead of placed at the bottom of the budget list by those who have hidden agendas. Our neighborhood public schools are chronically underfunded and deserve better!
“We can no longer stand silent and allow our teachers to be overworked, underpaid and taken for granted as they stress over the inability to actually teach.
“We should no longer stand silent as tuition rates increase and our children are having more difficulty paying for college tuition than ever before.
“We should no longer stand silent as the need for clear changes to our criminal justice system grows daily.
“We should no longer stand silent as large corporations and government bureaucrats trample on private property rights while hiding behind eminent domain laws and questioning our own rights to water on our property.
“We cannot allow Child Protective Services to remain in crisis. Caseworkers are underpaid and stretched thin and thousands of our children have fallen through the cracks.
“I was raised in a bipartisan home. We are educators, ranchers and landowners. One of my brothers is a Texas Republican District Court Judge. I understand first-hand the issues faced by all Judges due to a broken justice system and security concerns. I also have two brothers who are employed by the oil and gas sector which has experienced lay-offs and cuts due to an unstable economy wrought by the lack of incentives for small and large businesses seeking to invest in our State.
“As a fifth-generation Texan, mother and grandmother, I am concerned about the future we are leaving our children and grandchildren. I will be able to work around party lines for the beliefs we share as Texans.
“South Texas deserves better. And by working together, I promise to do better for you, our neighbors, and our children. I promise to do better for Texas.
“I humbly ask for your support as your Texas State Legislator for District 31.
“Thank you and God bless.”