That is why I am running for Mayor.
I was born and raised in San Antonio by parents who instilled in me their aspiration for a better life through hard work and education. With vocational training, my father worked as an AC repairman at Lackland Air Force Base, and my mom obtained a Licensed Vocational Nurse certificate and cared for seniors. Education allowed them to establish a foothold in the middle class, and they wanted their children to reach even higher.
I was the first to graduate from college in my family. My training in economics and statistics first at Texas A&M and later at Harvard prepared me well for my early career. I worked for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington DC as a research analyst. I went on to work for several top public finance shops helping local governments manage their debt. While these jobs allowed me to solve important technical problems, I yearned for an opportunity to tackle community challenges as a public leader.
In 1997, I returned to San Antonio and joined a nonprofit that was launching a new training program for neighborhood association leaders that emphasized collaboration and finding common ground in challenging circumstances. Inspired by this work, I became vice president of my neighborhood association. This experience grounded me in my community and tested my abilities. At age 27, I drew upon these experiences when I launched an improbable campaign for the Texas legislature.
In that race, every political incumbent endorsed my opponent. He outspent me 3:1. Yet, I never gave up. I knocked on over 4,000 doors, listened to voters and empowered them to be part of our campaign. Against all odds, on election night I won by one single vote.
Fifteen years later, I am proud of my service in the Texas legislature. I credit my time with neighborhood leaders for shaping my collaborative style. I gained a reputation as a pragmatic, effective legislator from colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I earned the trust of two house speakers from the other party, and was given leadership appointments that I’ve used to make people’s lives better.
In my fifteen years at the Capitol, I developed a reputation as a legislator focused on improving our children’s education. I successfully fought to expand TEXAS Grants, our state’s most significant college financial aid, which helps students who have demonstrated academic achievement and financial need. I helped reduce our state’s overemphasis on standardized testing, and helped advance quality modern career and technical training in our high schools.
As mayor, I will continue to make our children’s education a priority because educational achievement is the first rung on the ladder to prosperity. I will lead by partnering with education, community and business leaders to ensure that children and adults have the foundational skills of critical thinking and problem solving that will make them competitive, and that our schooling offers avenues to careers that are valued by our market. With San Antonio’s special combination of aspiration, hard work and innovation, with the right start, our youth can grow into a workforce to compete with any city in the world.
Today, San Antonio is a city with positive momentum and unlimited potential. Those of us who care deeply about her future need to seize this moment by winning this election and using our skills, talents and experience to ensure that the momentum continues and the potential of every citizen is fulfilled.