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McALLEN — Former Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chairman R.D. “Bobby” Guerra last week told supporters in the newly reconfigured District 41 that they should be represented by someone who’s dedicated to the ideals of the district.
“This is not about Democrats or Republicans,” Guerra said at an event kicking off his campaign to be the Democratic candidate for the state representative seat in the 2012 election. “This is not about being in power, it’s about what’s right. It’s time to make things right.”
District 41 in the last Legislature was reworked, cutting out chunks of McAllen, formally covered by Democrat Veronica Gonzales. It’ll now be represented by Republican Aaron Peña, who previously belonged to District 40, which extended west to some of the most Democratic parts of the county. Under the new plan, District 41 represents parts or all of the cities of McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, Palmhurst and Pharr.
Several elected officials from Mission, McAllen, Edinburg and Hidalgo County were present at the campaign event, including Gonzales who reportedly will seek office in District 40.
Guerra, a McAllen attorney, faces Edinburg businessman T.C. Betancourt for the seat. Peña, an Edinburg attorney who switched political parties as the 82nd Legislative session started, announced his intentions to run a few months ago.
Of his Republican opponent, Guerra said voters haven’t been represented correctly. In fact, with the new lines drawn, residents here don’t have an incumbent elected official.
“Ninety-five percent of us did not have a chance to vote for (Peña) or against him,” Guerra said. “In a backroom deal in the redistricting process he imposed himself on us.”
On redistricting, Guerra said Republicans could split up cities to increase the chances in favor of specific candidates, but the zeal of the community would remain unchanged.
“What you cannot do is change who we are and what we’re about,” he said. “What they will learn is there is more that unites us than divides us.”
A number of Guerra’s relatives have served in public office. His father also served on the Hidalgo County Commissioners’ Court with Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas.
Guerra said one of his biggest goals, if elected into office, would be to support education in Texas; it’s key to moving the Rio Grande Valley’s economy forward, he said.
“Education is the Valley’s future,” he said. “That’s why it was so painful to watch the Republicans in office cut the education budget…They have not lived up to their responsibilities.”
Other top priorities include the quality of health care and improved infrastructure.
“It’s the legacy we leave to our children,” Guerra explained.
Guerra graduated from Pan American University in 1977 with degrees in biology and chemistry. He later worked as an anchor and reporter for KRGV Channel 5 before attending Texas Southern University Law School in Houston. After graduation, he practiced law with the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Texas. He’s currently a partner at the Willette and Guerra Law Firm in McAllen.
He has served as director of the Hidalgo County Bar Association and was elected president for the 1993-94 term. He’s currently a member of the American Bar Association and State Bar of Texas and was elected state bar director for District 12 from 1996 to 1999. He is also a fellow in the American Academy of Trial Counsel.
In March 2000, Guerra was elected chairman of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party where he served two terms. He has also served on the board of directors of the University of Texas-Pan American Alumni Association and was elected president of the board in 2003.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.