MEET PETE

Like many American families, my family started out in a small town and through hard work and sacrifice we fought our way into the middle class. My roots in Alpine, Texas, the town where I was born and raised, go back to the early 1880’s. In 1917, my grandparents opened a small family restaurant. That restaurant – which was around until my parents retired in 1997 – taught me many lessons. One of the most important lessons was the value of hard work.

My dad was a proud WWII veteran who refused any veterans benefits because he believed his military service was just a matter of meeting his obligation to his country. He worked in his restaurant every day. My mom took a job as a state employee and did everything she could to support three kids and help make ends meet.

My sisters and I were expected to do well in school and to pitch in at the family restaurant. I mostly washed dishes at first. Later, I added on a job at a local clothing store, the local radio station and a job at Sul Ross State University, the university in Alpine.

I graduated from high school in 1980 and graduated from Sul Ross in 1982. Finishing college in two years while balancing three jobs wasn’t easy by any means, but like I said – we were raised to be hard workers.

After graduation, I went on to earn a degree from The University of Texas School of Law. Shortly after, I returned to my hometown of Alpine where I was a felony prosecutor. After a few years of serving my community, I learned that our system had some major flaws. That’s when I decided to run for the Legislature. 

Along the way, I was inspired by the people I met everyday who just wanted a fix to their everyday challenges so they could improve their lives. This same desire to solve problems is why I am running today.

“Education is the key to our future, Pete has worked tirelessly to improve our schools and support our teachers.”

What matters to me.

After graduating from law school, I served as an assistant attorney general before heading back to Alpine as a local felony prosecutor. Representing the public as their prosecutor was a great job, but I was shocked to learn how some things at the state level worked – or didn’t work.

One day, I got a call from the Upton County sheriff. He had driven to Huntsville to drop off a prisoner and stopped several places on his drive back home. Imagine his surprise when he got back to Rankin and found the prisoner he’d delivered had already been released and had beaten him back.

If I hadn’t seen this for myself, I would never believe a story like that.

Parents have a sixth sense when it comes to their kids. Mine were no different. My parents sensed how frustrated I was with the system as it existed and convinced me to make it better by running for the state legislature. And so I did – I was 28 years old when I was elected to the Texas House to represent my West Texas neighbors and friends.

Two weeks after my first primary win in 1990, I married the most beautiful and wonderful woman I’d ever met, María Elena. We have now been married for 28 years. It’s gone by in a flash. We’re also the proud parents of a 13-year old son, Nicolás. These years have gone by especially fast. It’s amazing how fast a kid grows. Nicolás is hilarious and the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.

In the state legislature I was able to get a lot done by sticking to two simple guidelines – (1) always put the needs of the people you represent ahead of any political concerns (or, as Speaker Pete Laney used to say “vote your district”) and (2) always be willing to work with anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to solve a problem.

I used my experience as a prosecutor to make our laws more fair. I worked to create and grow the state’s DNA database to make sure the guilty are convicted and the innocent are set free. I worked to prevent wrongful convictions by changing lineup and interview procedures. I also concentrated on helping victims of crime – including victims of domestic violence. 

I passed laws that reduced red tape for protecting victims and helped relocate them to a safer place.  Because knowledge is power, I made sure the court and prison system would notify victims of pending hearings or release dates. For my efforts, I won several awards.

As a son of the border region, I’ve always known that our border is the front door to Texas. So, I worked on strengthening trade, securing our border, and investing in infrastructure and people. I met many, many veterans from our region. I made it my passion to provide support for their causes, as well – especially for helping families transition their wounded warriors to civilian life. Texas veterans have earned our support.

I loved having the trust and confidence of the people I worked for. I knew a lot of those people, usually several generations of families. At the same time, I was honored to also have the trust and confidence of my peers – both Republicans and Democrats. Though I was a Leader of the Democratic Party in the Legislature, I successfully negotiated major pieces of legislation with my Republican colleagues because they trusted me. It was just about making Texas better.

I was able to make a difference in Austin. And, it didn’t make sense that in D.C., the US Congress could never reach a good result – or any result at all. We definitely do things better in Texas. I thought for sure Congress needed a dose of small town values and common sense – and I knew I could do a better job than many of the people in Washington. María Elena listened to my frustrations and told me I should just go do it. And so I did.

In 2012, I made my first run for Congress – It took a lot of help from a lot of people, but by doing what I always did – working hard and working together – we won! For someone used to getting things done, Congress was a big change, but I refused to give up the work ethic and morals that got me there. In fact, when the government shut down, I immediately sponsored a bill prohibiting Congress from accepting a paycheck because, like you, I don’t think anyone deserves to get paid when they’re not doing their job.

While in Congress, I tried to focus on helping our men and women in uniform and our veterans, as well as our seniors and our kids. My dad never got to see me serve in Congress – but losing him also taught me a lot. I kept values he taught me close – things like keeping your commitment. Our country has made commitments to those, like my dad, who have formed and forged our country.

We must keep those commitments to our veterans and our elderly. At the same time, we must be sure we pass on to our kids a strong nation full of the same dreams and opportunities our parents provided us.

As Your State Senator

Ours is a resilient country. We face challenging times at both the state and federal levels; things that assault our values of fairness and opportunity. This is why I hope to serve as the new State Senator for District 19. 

show up for work. I fight every day. I have a reputation for honesty, integrity and common sense. With your help, I know I can lead this vast district into a future where our kids have quality education, our veterans get improved access to health care, and our natural resources are used wisely so our families can succeed. 

This district and its people are home and family to me. I have driven all 2700 miles of its highways, I know what is important to all 17 counties. I know the families, usually several generations of them. And I know how to get things done in the Legislature. I will find common ground for results that benefit all of its people. 

Thanks so much for visiting our website. I hope I can count on you to help me bring our values, your values, to the Texas Senate.

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