Luis Lopez, born 25 years ago in Mexico, is running as a Democrat for the Texas House of Representatives on a platform of improving the educational system, protecting women's rights and providing better support for small businesses.

Lopez, who was 8 when he arrived in the United States with his parents and seven siblings, grew up and lived most of his life in Beaumont, a city of around 120,000 inhabitants east of Houston.

"I went to elementary school and high school there and finished college as an accountant, a subject in which I also took a master's degree. That's when I learned to get involved in the social needs of a community that still needs more legislative representation," Lopez said in an interview with Efe.

"I was 14 when I started taking part in community activities, then through Lulac (the League of United Latin American Citizens) I started lending a hand to the Hispanic population with information about access to health care and legal assistance," he said.

In Beaumont, according to Lopez, the lack of Hispanic representation in the municipal and county governments was so evident that filling that vacancy became his obsession.

So it was that more than a year ago he decided to move to Houston, where he lives with his wife and their 7-month-old daughter, in order to find a chance to run for public office.

"I told the heads of the Democratic Party about my intentions and now they support my candidacy for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives, to be decided in this year's November elections," Lopez said, adding that he won't have to run in the March primaries since he is the only Democratic candidate in that district.

The current representative of District 132 is Republican Bill Callegari, who announced that he will not stand for reelection. He won in 2012 with 80.7 percent of the vote.

"I believe it will be difficult but not impossible to win. Though people are astonished at my age, I believe I have the enthusiasm needed to represent a community. I want to listen to the people, I will be the voters' voice - through me they will decide what changes to make," Lopez said.

Just over 32 percent of the more than 172,000 residents of District 132 are Latinos, while 14.5 percent are African-Americans and 42.6 percent are non-Hispanic whites, according to Census figures. EFE