State Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, announced today on a local radio show — "The Strelz" hosted by Paul Strelzin — that she plans to run for reelection to the Texas House instead of making a go at the state Senate seat that Eliot Shapleigh is vacating. She confirmed her decision to run for reelection in a text message to The Tribune this evening and later released a public statement.
"She had weighed her pros and cons and she felt she had done many, many things … and she didn’t want to give that up, and she thought she could do best for her constituency by remaining" in the House, Strelzin said, recounting Chavez's announcement on his program.
In the statement, Chavez explains that though she has the credentials to run for the Senate, she has chosen instead to use her seniority in the House to "its full capacity."
When Shapleigh announced in October he would not run again for the Senate, Chavez immediately said "you bet" she planned to seriously consider a campaign to replace him.
She began backing away from that plan recently, though, and said she would decide by Thanksgiving whether to run for the Senate.
Earlier this month she cited a bad year in the press, with public fights between Chavez and other legislators making headlines statewide, as one of the reasons she was hesitating to make a run for the Senate.
Meanwhile, El Paso County Attorney Jose Rodriguez announced he will run for the Senate seat, and he resigned his county post. And, at least two candidates are lined up to challenge Chavez in the Democratic primary for House District 76.
Statement by Norma Chavez (D - El Paso) Regarding the Texas Senate Race
November 24, 2009
When Senator Shapleigh announced he was not running for re-election, I made it clear that I would strongly consider running for the office.
I certainly have the credentials for the office. Since running for office, I promised to use my seniority to its full capacity. I have now served in the Texas House for 13 years. Today, I sit on the powerful Appropriations Committee — I am the only member from El Paso serving on a budget writing committee — and Calendars Committee.
Because of my experience and leadership I have passed El Paso’s legislative agenda. This has been accomplished by filling and passing bills, amendments and appropriation riders. This includes passing significant legislation that:
Establishes 6 courts of law including the County Criminal Courts at Law No 1 & 2, County Criminal Courts at Law No 3 & 4, County Criminal Judicial District Court No. 1, and the 448th Judicial District Court;
Created and funded the Center for Law and Border Studies at UTEP;
Added an amendment that requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinate Board to conduct a study on feasibility that establishes a law school on the border;
Authored and passed legislation that requires local workforce development boards to include financial literacy education in worker retraining programs, in order to ensure our workers have better financial knowledge needed to succeed.;
Worked with the House leadership to secure the $48 million funding for the El Paso Medical School;
Lead the effort to allocate the $9 million needed to restore solvency to the Fire Fighters' Pension Fund;
Secured the $1 million needed in debt service to issue $12 million in bonds for the Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP). EDAP helps colonias build water and wastewater services in colonias;
Passed, with Representative Joe Moody, an EPISD-supported amendment that increases the financial allotment to school districts that are affected by BRAC by an additional $9 million;
Filed legislation and picked up the Senate version which expanded the Texas Transportation Commission from 3 to 5 members and allowed for a member from El Paso to serve on the commission;
Filed and passed legislation that expands the Department of Public Safety Commission from 3 to 5 members, allowing it to establish subcommittees to provide in-depth consideration of different issues and subjects;
Filed and passed legislation that improves inspections of farm worker housing;
Served as the House sponsor of historic legislation that declared the first Texas holiday honoring a Latino, for civil rights activist and labor leader César Chávez;
Increased funding from $30 million to $80 for the Skills Development Fund (SDF), a highly successful job training program;
Permitted the state to use SDF to attract out-of-state employers to El Paso a REDCo legislative priority with statewide impact;
Passed legislation that helps protect elderly or disabled victims or witnesses of crimes;
Passed legislation that addresses the physician shortage along the border by creating a priority reimbursement formula for graduate medical education in the region;
Passed legislation clarifying the helmet bill for motorcyclists;
Amended a bill authorizing a governing body of a subdivision participating in the Texas County and District Retirement System to give personnel the option to retire and collect benefits after 20 years of service, thereby affecting the retirement of all El Paso County employees;
Passed legislation Allowing the Paul J. Foster School of Medicine to participate in a program that provides support for highly qualified and academically disadvantaged medical students; and
Improved the effectiveness and efficiency of the El Paso County Hospital District Board.
On top of that, the people of this City know they can count on me to fight for them – not for the powerful special interests in Austin. I will always remember that I am a daughter of a gas station owner and former truck driver and a 30-plus year clerk at Ft. Bliss Biggs Field. So I will always take the little guy's side.
So with all of this in mind, I talked to hundreds of people inside and outside of the district over the last few days. Many urged me to run and committed to work hard for me and raise significant funds. Many others said they would miss me as their state representative.
I had to decide what was best for the citizens in my House District, what was best for El Paso and what was right for my family and me. Frankly, there have been some difficult moments in the past year, which has led me to think long and hard about what I stand for and what I still want to accomplish.
We've got important work still to do in the Texas House, and I want to be a part of that work. After weighing all those factors, I have decided to re-dedicate myself and run for re-election as State Representative for District 76.
I want to thank everyone in my family and my many friends for their encouragement and support. You will always have a special place in my heart.
And always remember, I will never stop fighting for you. I will never give in. I'm on your side.