Miles and Miles of Texas
By Senator Leticia Van de Putte
If you've lived in Texas long enough, you've probably heard the great Bob Wills song, "Miles and Miles of Texas."
That song could have been the soundtrack to my life last week, because that's exactly what I saw - 2,500 miles of Texas.
I've been traveling around all nearly the entirety of state on a bus tour, meeting with Texas families to hear their dreams and their ideas about how Texas government can make those dreams more attainable. The trip is the first major tour of my campaign to become Lieutenant Governor of Texas.
We kicked things off with a wonderful event at the San Antonio Firefighters Hall last Sunday, and then we traveled along the length of the Texas-Mexico border, through West Texas, Dallas-Fort Worth, down through East Texas to Houston. We finished up with a swing through Corpus before wrapping things up at the University of Texas at Austin on Monday.
Criss-crossing the state has been a wonderful experience. I got to visit the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, where I heard Pharr's chief financial officer and bridge director Juan Guerra express his frustration with the overheated Republican rhetoric about the border.
"People believe that the (National Geographic) Channel series Border Wars is something that happens every single day, all the time, and that we're a third-world country or that it's a war zone, and it's not," Guerra said. "This is one of the fastest-growing areas in the entire country. It's a very safe region and it's very healthy economically."
The Republicans still have to decide who will face me in November (a run-off will be held in May), but I worry that no matter who gets the GOP nomination, that person will have a toxic effect on our valuable border trade. It's like the Republican candidates did not learn the lessons of other states like California and Arizona, both of which suffered economically after passing anti-immigrant, anti-Latino legislation.
Of course, as I've always done as a senator and will continue to do as lieutenant governor, I listened to veterans. I visited an American Legion Hall in Laredo with my dear friend Senator Judith Zaffirini (whose district includes part of Bexar County), and in El Paso I met up with my colleague Senator José Rodríguez and former Senator Eliot Shapleigh as we reviewed the Veterans Transitional Living Center and its efforts to end homelessness among our heroes.
It broke my heart during the tour to receive news of the shootings in Fort Hood. That base and the Killeen community have suffered too much over the years.
I met with Democratic Party volunteers in Lubbock who are working hard to get out my message of educational investment so that we may continue our economic progress. I reminded folks in Wichita Falls that I am Chair of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee and that I have always fought hard to protect Texas military facilities such as Sheppard Air Force Base from closure, just like I've done with our San Antonio bases.
In DFW I listened to business leaders discuss what they need to keep creating good jobs, and in the beautiful pines of East Texas I heard about the great educational opportunities created by state universities like UT-Tyler and Stephen F. Austin State.
It's been a long and rewarding trip. The only way to properly govern is to listen. The families of Texas helped me understand what needs to be done to keep our state great. I'll keep listening all the way through Election Day ... and beyond.
State Senator Leticia Van de Putte represents District 26 in Bexar County. Learn more about her at www.leticiavandeputte.com.