Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gilberto Hinojosa Running To Be The Next Texas Democratic Party Chair

A former Cameron County Judge and current party chair for Cameron County is seeking to become the Lone Star State’s top Democrat when Boyd Richie, the current Texas Democratic Party Chair, leaves office next year.

Brownsville-based attorney Gilberto Hinojosa last month filed with the Texas Ethics Commissions to become an official candidate for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party. (website | Facebook)

The next Texas Democratic Party Chair will be elected at the June 2012 Texas state Democratic Convention. Boyd Richie announced at a State Democratic Executive Committee meeting in April that he would not seek re-election in 2012.

Hinojosa named Houston Attorney Cris Feldman treasurer for his Texas Democratic Party Chair campaign. It was Feldman who sued the treasurer of Texans for a Republican Majority on behalf of four Democratic House candidates who were defeated in the 2002 election with the help of "clandestinely funneled illegal corporate cash into the [Texas] elections" by then House majority leader Tom DeLay and his aides. In a 2010 trial DeLay was found guilty on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in the scheme to illegally funnel corporate cash to Texas Republican candidates running in the 2002 election.

Judge Hinojosa commented on his State Chair campaign:

"I have decided to take on this campaign for Texas Democratic Party Chair because I believe that the people of the State of Texas deserve, and desperately need, to have a Democratic Party that will ensure that we elect fair minded, socially conscious, critical thinking and visionary Democrats to run this State, instead of the Republicans that are running it into the ditch. Texans cannot afford any less. TOO much is at stake. TOO much has been lost and we must turn things around before it's TOO late!

Houston Chronicle reporter Lisa Falkenberg, in an article titled "A missive from a sad, bleak future", describes a Texas 30 years from now with poor schools, over-crowded prisons, high property taxes and a poverty rate three times what it is today. This prophetic piece should not only bring fear to our hearts, it should also challenge us.

Republican gains in the last two decades have put us on this downward spiral and will soon put us last nationally in the quality of our public education, in access to health care, in the quality of life for senior citizens and in almost every issue that matters to our families. The only things that Republicans have put us first in is in the drop-out rate for school children, the number of children that are uninsured, the highest homeowner insurance premiums in the country, and this country's highest college tuition rates. And following through with promises made to their right-wing base, Republicans are in the process of destroying a woman's right to choose and depriving gays and lesbians of fundamental rights, such as the right to marry, enjoyed by all other Americans.

However, rather than mope around with our heads down resigned to this dismal future, we need to dust ourselves off, hitch up our jeans, roll up our sleeves and turn this fight around. President Barack Obama borrowed a phrase made famous by a small, humble and unassuming union leader from California by the name of Cesar Chavez: "Yes we can!" Or as Cesar Chavez called to action the once powerless farm workers of California: "Si Se Puede!" YES WE CAN be the Party that elects leaders who will build a stronger, better educated, more innovative and more caring Texas for ALL Texans. I truly believe that our Party can elect responsible and visionary leaders, who deeply care about our future, and who will work towards building a strong Texas that we can all be proud of.

I also know that our challenge to make the Democratic Party the majority Party in Texas will not be easy. It will require pioneering, creative and bold strategies - strategies which will clearly and correctly distinguish our Party from the other and which define our Party, and what it stands for, in a way that mirrors the hopes, dreams and ambitions of families in Texas who desperately need for us to succeed.

These strategies must primarily focus on achieving a majority by ensuring that, before anything else, the full potential of the Democratic Base is achieved. We will not give away any part of the electorate to the Republicans, but we must recognize that we will only become the majority party in this State when we have done everything possible to turnout the Democratic base at election time.

Obviously, a key part of that base that is far from achieving its full potential are Latinos. When Latinos, who make up 40 percent of the people in this State and who vote for Democrats over Republicans by two to one margins, are turning out to vote at rates far below other demographic groups, it is difficult for our Party to a achieve a majority in this State. The only way that I believe we can ensure that Latinos are voting at or near normal rates is through a concentrated effort to register, engage, and turnout Latino voters utilizing innovative "boots on the ground" tactics which wisely and effectively use our limited resources. [editor's note: Hinojosa has also advocated the use of Internet and wireless new media strategies to reach out to all Democratic Party base voters.]

And we don't have to reinvent the wheel. States, like Colorado, Nevada and California, with far smaller Latino populations, have been able to achieve a Democratic majority with strong Latino mobilization efforts. Yes We Can! And Yes WE Will!

Join me in this historic effort to bring strong, responsible, caring and inspired Democratic Leadership to government in the Great State of Texas. Texas needs us to succeed. And we cannot fail. No, we MUST not fail.
Who is Gilberto Hinojosa?

Hinojosa was born and grew up attending public schools in the Rio Grande Valley. Gilberto received his Bachelor's Degree from Pan American University (now University of Texas, PAU); the first in his family to graduate from college. He went on to earn a doctorate of jurisprudence from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C.

After law school, Gilberto practiced law as an attorney for Migrant Legal Action Program (MLAP), a national legal services support center in Washington D.C. There he represented migrant farm workers in legal advocacy in the courts and with state and national governmental agencies who provided (or failed to provide) services to migrant farm workers.

At MLAP he represented farm workers in class actions seeking federal minimum wages for them, gaining access to farm labor camps, preventing temporary foreign workers from being brought to the United States to break farm worker strikes and making sure that the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Services Division provided farm workers with needed interstate employment services. From there he went on to be the Director of the Migrant Farm Worker Program of Colorado Rural Legal Services. In 1981 he returned to Texas where he was the managing attorney for the Brownville office of Texas Rural Legal Aid, Inc.

In 1984, Gilberto was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Brownville Independent School District, where he served as Vice President of the Board before being appointed Presiding Judge of Cameron County Court at Law No. 2.

In 1987 Governor Mark White appointed Judge Hinojosa to the 107th District Court where he served until he was elected Justice of the 13th Court of Appeals, serving 20 South Texas counties from the Rio Grande Valley, to Nueces County, to Matagorda County, south of Houston.

While on the Court of Appeals, Governor Ann Richards appointed Judge Hinojosa to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, where, as a board member, he helped oversee the Texas prison and parole system and, as a Board, assisted in establishing policies for probation departments throughout the State. During his service on the Board, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, inspired by the leadership of Governor Ann Richards, developed first of its kind substance abuse prison facilities designed to treat offenders with substance abuse problems.

After completing his term on the 13th Court of Appeals, Judge Hinojosa ran for, and was elected Cameron County Judge where he served for 12 years. As Cameron County Judge, Judge Hinojosa transformed county government in Cameron County to make it one of the most effective and efficient in the State of Texas. During his tenure as county judge, he managed a $110 million dollar budget and he left Cameron County with an A+ bond rating and one of the lowest tax rates for a county in the State of Texas and the lowest south of San Antonio, including San Antonio.

In 2007 Judge Hinojosa was elected Cameron County Democratic Party Chair where he continues to serve. In 2008 he was elected to the Democratic National Committee and in 2009 Chairman Tim Kaine appointed him to the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee. At the time of his appointment, Gilberto was only one of two Latinos appointed by Chairman Kaine to the Executive Committee.

Gilberto Hinojosa currently practices law in Brownsville, Texas.

Gilberto is married to Cyndi, who is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He has five wonderful children: Gina, Xochitl, Miguel, Diego and Maya. And one grandson - "TGM" (The Great Matteo).

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