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The local dimension of politics.

How many Latinos in politics can you name?

Are you familiar with Castro, Becerra, Cruz, Diaz Balart, Gutierrez, Martinez, Menendez, Ross-Lehtinen, Rubio, Sanchez, and Sandoval? All are high profile Latinos in national and statewide political leadership roles.

Although there are a number of well-known Latinos in politics at the national and state levels, the vast majority of Hispanic Elected Officials (HEO's) are at the local and regional levels. According to NALEO there are a total of 6,084 HEO's in the U.S. Among the HEO's there are 334 Federal and State Officials and 5,750 local and judicial/legal officials.

In terms of geographic distribution, despite being known for the political power of its HEO's, California ranks second in number with 1,406 (23.1% of the U.S. total) and with Texas ranking first at 2,590 (42.5% of the U.S. total).

Many articles on Latinos in politics are focused on national leaders and somewhat on statewide frontrunners but very little on local groundbreakers. Regional leaders can have a surprisingly big impact on the daily lives of people in a city, county or metro region. One such local leader is Adrian Garcia of Houston.

With over 2.2 million residents, Houston is the fourth largest city in America. The City of Houston would rank as the 36th largest state, with a population larger than those of states such as New Mexico, Nebraska, and West Virginia. The Houston/Harris County metro area is the fifth largest metro area in the U.S. and is home to over 6.6 million people. It ranks third in Hispanic population nationally.

Garcia is living the American Dream. A first generation, U.S.-born, Mexican-American, Garda is a lifelong public servant.

Growing up in the Near Northside neighborhood in a large family, his father set their family values of success, including respect, hard work, and giving back to both the community and to our Country. Garcia, with a desire to do his part, to give back, and to serve his community, decided to go into law enforcement and joined the Houston Police Department.

After an impressive 23-year career with the HPD, Garcia was elected to the Houston City Council.

In 2008, after six years as a Houston City Councilman, he was elected Harris County Sheriff, garnering the highest number of votes in the history of Harris County. Incidentally, he was the second highest vote getter in Harris County in the 2012 election and won more votes than President Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

As Harris County Sheriff, Garda ran an organization with nearly 5,000 employees and a budget of almost $500 million dollars. During his tenure he enacted reforms of the Harris County Sheriffs Office and jail that resulted in over $100 million in savings. Talking with Garda, his passion for his community, for Houston, for Harris County, for Texas, and for America shines through. Making life better for Houstonians is near and dear to his heart and central to his life's work.

Garcia's priorities include youth success, economic growth, workforce development and making Houston a more livable city by improving its infrastructure and transportation. As a seasoned local and regional leader, confronting Houston's fiscal challenges is also among his high main concerns.

Through his career in public service, Garcia has made a positive difference in the lives of Houstonians and in the days of the residents of Harris County. Garcia is well positioned to become the next Mayor of Houston, possessing the highest name recognition among the mayoral candidates and having secured significant bi-partisan support among Democrats and Republicans. Whether or not he's elected Mayor of Houston, Garcia is already a great role model of a successful Latino leader in politics.
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Title Annotation:KEEPING UP WITH PABLO; hispanic elected officials
Author:Schneider, Pablo
Publication:Latino Leaders
Article Type:Column
Date:Jun 1, 2015
Words:623
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