Add state Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, to the list of legislators who won't be seeking re-election next year.
The Valley representative says that she won't run again, bringing the number of voluntary dropouts in the Texas House to more than two dozen.
Gonzales, who took office in 2005, chairs the House Border and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. She sent an email confirming the rumors of her decision.
She apparently got caught in competitive crossfire spurred by redistricting. Another candidate, Bobby Guerra, had planned to challenge state Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, but ended up in Gonzales' district when the maps were redrawn by federal judges in San Antonio.
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Peña has already said he won't seek another term in the Texas House.
Gonzales posted a letter to her constituents this afternoon:
Serving the constituents of District 41 for the past seven years has been a tremendous honor and privilege for me. That is why it is with a heavy heart that I have decided not to seek re-election to the Texas House of Representatives at the end of this term. This decision did not come easy, but I believe that it is the right one for me at this time in my life and one which will allow me to focus more attention on my law practice and personal life.
It is no secret that this past session was especially difficult with the draconian budget cuts and the redistricting battle that has lingered on for months and has recently resulted in the redrawing of a map by three federal judges. The Republican-drawn map passed by the Legislature had completely altered the boundaries of District 41 and had left the district with less than 2% of its original constituents. My home and office were moved out of District 41 and into a neighboring district in which I began a campaign. During session, I fought against the map and offered alternative amendments. After session ended, I participated in the court case, giving a deposition on how the map had adversely impacted District 41 and had failed to create a new district in the Rio Grande Valley. I also worked with the Department of Justice to challenge the map in the D.C. Court. While the battle in the Texas House was lost, the war was won with the Court. The panel of federal judges - two Republicans and one Democrat - unanimously agreed that the South Texas map violated the Voting Rights Act. They restored District 41 to its original lines, moved my house back into my district and gave us an additional representative seat. With that battle behind us, I felt I could retire knowing that the cities comprising District 41 had been put back together.
During the past seven years, I have had the privilege of meeting and working with and for countless individuals and groups, both in my District and throughout the entire Rio Grande Valley. My appointment to the Texas Lyceum allowed me to work with leaders from all over the state to study issues impacting Texans and gather ideas for legislation. I was honored to be appointed to the Aspen Institute where I was able to share ideas with lawmakers from all over the United States on how we can better govern our nation. I will always value the many friendships I made with members in those organizations as well as the close friendships I have shared with members in the Texas House and Senate. I give a special thanks to my constituents who placed their faith in me and elected me four times in a district that was split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans. I made a commitment when first elected in 2004 to work tirelessly to promote the best interests of the Rio Grande Valley and to do so with integrity and professionalism and I believe I have kept that commitment. The legislation I passed was diverse, but was always done with a goal of improving life for border residents and I am confident that the work I have started will continue. None of this work would have been possible without a great and loyal staff and to each of them I say thank you for standing by my side and working many late nights and weekends both in and out of session. I also want to give a special thanks to my law partners who were patient and made it possible for me to dedicate years to public service.
My work for District 41 and for the Rio Grande Valley is not over. Aside from staying active in the community, in my last year of public service, I will be holding hearings as the Chairwoman of the Border & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee to study how we can improve security while maintaining economic development along our border. Because we suffer the highest levels of uninsured in the State, the committee will also identify health disparities in counties along the Texas-Mexico border and consider strategies to expand preventive care. My findings will be submitted in a report to the Legislature before session begins in 2013.
The people of the Rio Grande Valley have been extremely kind to me and I leave this position with tremendous gratitude and faith that the next representative of District 41 will make this an even greater place to live.
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