Latinas Aspire to Capture Seat of Late Texas Lawmaker

Published November 27, 2012


Two Hispanic women are vying for the Texas Senate seat left vacant by the death of Mario Gallegos Jr. a few weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

Gallegos, a Democrat, was the first Hispanic to represent District 6, a now-70-percent Latino area in Harris County.

The senator died on Oct. 14 of liver problems. Texas law says that if a candidate dies within 74 days of the election, his name remains on the ballot.

In this case, the deceased Gallegos beat Republican rival R.W. Bray, meaning that a special election will now be necessary.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry can schedule that vote anytime between Dec. 15, 2012, and Feb. 5, 2013.

That is precisely what concerns the two Democrats vying for the seat, Carol Alvarado and Sylvia Garcia, who prefer the elections to be held as soon as possible, as the next legislative session starts in January.

"Countless bills that are important to the Hispanic community are going to be presented," Alvarado, currently a member of the lower house, told Efe. "And, apparently, we're going to have a good number of legislative proposals that will directly affect the undocumented community."

Alvarado was elected for the first time to the Texas legislature in 2009. Her political career began as a city councilwoman in Houston.

"The state legislature needs someone with experience in these jobs who knows how to resolve legislative problems immediately without needing to take an accelerated course about how the system in Austin works," said Alvarado, referring to the alleged inexperience of her rival.

But Garcia is not a novice to public service.

She was elected commissioner of Harris County, where Houston is located, in 2002. Prior to that, she was city controller and served as director and presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System.

"In this legislative session, one of the most important points will be ... the budget that decides the management of all the state's public sectors for the next two years, and in that, my experience is broad," Garcia told Efe. 

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