Featured: Student Government Association at South Texas College hosted Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, at a town hall-style event at the STC Pecan Campus in McAllen on Thursday, October 18, 2018. Lucio spoke about the importance of voting ahead of Election Day on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. Lucio’s presentation took place in the new Student Union Building, 3201 W. Pecan Boulevard in McAllen.
Photograph By BEN BRIONES
Sen. Lucio encourages South Texas College students to join the voting process during upcoming Tuesday, November 6, 2018 elections
By JOSÉ GÓMEZ
Urging students at South Texas College to become a part of the voting process as Election Day nears, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, challenged them to create the world they want to live in by making their voice heard at the ballot box, regardless of party affiliation.
In addition to local races throughout the Lone Star State – including for State Representative, District 41 Hidalgo County Judge, and Chief Justice, 13th Court of Appeals – voters in the Rio Grande Valley and statewide will be casting their ballots for the top leadership roles in Texas, featuring the races for U.S. senator, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and more.
Addressing a packed house comprised of students, faculty and administrators, Lucio hosted a town hall-style meeting with STC students on Friday, October 18, 2018, speaking about the power of voting in order to shape the “economic future of the community”.
Student Government Association (SGA) representatives from three STC campuses including Pecan, Mid Valley and Starr County, had the opportunity to ask Lucio pressing questions focused on current issues . He then fielded questions from students in the audience before being presented with a gavel by SGA students.
“If we participate in the (voting) process, we might live to see the world we really want to live in. My intention today is to make sure that this generation is the one that puts the puzzle together in this great country of ours,” Lucio said. “We are in this together, all of us, not only here in the Valley or the state of Texas, but in the entire country. We shouldn’t be fighting one another, and there shouldn’t be divisiveness.”
Often called the “father” of South Texas College, Lucio introduced the legislation that called for the creation of STC in 1993. Then Rep. Roberto Gutiérrez, D-McAllen, was the House sponsor of Lucio’s Senate Bill 251, which called for the creation of a college to serve Hidalgo and Starr Counties.
In June of that year, then Gov. Ann Richards signed the legislation creating South Texas Community College, converting the former Texas State Technical College campus in McAllen into a locally governed community college serving Hidalgo and Starr Counties.
Since that time, STC has seen steady growth in its student enrollment starting with 1,058 students in 1993 to more than 34,000 students by fall 2017.
“We are living a dream,” Lucio said referring to the impact of STC. “It’s one of high success, and one that can stay up with any other junior college in the nation. Wonderful things have happened, but they did not just happen. It took people coming together, and I love Dr. Reed’s approach of being inclusive, which means not only her staff or professors, but the student body as well, everyone coming together.”
Dr. Shirley Reed is the founding president of STC.
“I would like to leave you with a strong message, and one that will hopefully inspire you, as I have been inspired by those I have depended on to guide me,” Lucio told attendees. “The important thing is to respect where we come from, who we are, respect ourselves and respect others.”
TEXAS SENATE WELCOMES PETER FLORES, R-PLEASANTON, AS NEWEST MEMBER
Sen. Peter “Pete” Flores , R-Pleasanton. took the oath of office on Friday, October 19, 2018, becoming the newest member of the Texas Senate.
Flores won a special election for Senate District 19 in September 2018, and will now represent the largest district in the state, stretching from western Bexar County all the way to Reeves County in West Texas, covering 35,000 miles and includes 400 miles of the international border with Mexico.
Flores fills a seat that became vacant earlier this year after former Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, resigned after Uresti was convicted of 11 federal felonies relating to his alleged involvement in a Ponzi scheme, according to the FreeBeacon.com. Uresti’s departure triggered a special election, the first round of which was held in July.
Flores won his seat by crisscrossing the district, putting more than 7,000 miles on his truck in five weeks of campaigning, said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.
“To win a campaign, you have to have a good candidate and you have to have someone who is willing to work hard,” said Patrick. “He was the best candidate, and he worked hard…knocking on doors, introducing himself, meeting voters, many who had never had anyone knock on their door to introduce themselves and ask for their vote.”
Patrick pointed to the increase in enthusiasm for the run-off election as proof of his hard work. While run-offs normally see a decrease in turnout, turnout for the SD 19 run-off almost doubled the first round of voting, rising from 26,000 voters to 44,000 in September.
“That is an historic, all time high of a percentage of people turning out for a run-off election [in Texas], and that’s attributable to you, Pete,” Patrick said.
Flores is a former Texas game warden who rose to the rank of colonel and head of the Law Enforcement Division of the Parks and Wildlife Department, the first Hispanic Texan to hold that post.
Carter Smith, the current executive director of TPWD, offered effusive praise for Flores at the Friday, October 12 ceremony.
“I first met Pete about a dozen years ago and his reputation as a lawman aptly preceded him,” said Smith. “Plenty affable, plenty likable, he’d give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it. He was also no-nonsense, a straight shooter, somebody who was absolutely not confused about what was right and what was wrong.”
Flores was gracious in victory, thanking his family and constituents for their support.
In his inaugural speech, Flores identified property tax reform, economic development and support for law enforcement as his top priorities for the upcoming session.
“We’re all here for a better Texas, all of us, and with that in mind we’ll get there,” he told his colleagues. “With me, you’re going to have an open mind and you’re going to have some one who will listen and who is with you towards the same goal: to be a better Texas.”
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Flores grew up in Laredo and settled in Pleasanton in 2012 following his retirement after 27 years as a game warden. He and his wife Elizabeth have two daughters and two grandchildren.
Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website’s Audio/Video Archive.
David A. Díaz contributed to this article. For more on this and related state legislative news, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature.