March 2 is primary election day.

    Running in the Democrat Party Primary Election on the Bexar County ballot are incumbents Charles A. Gonzalez, Ciro D. Rodriguez and Henry Cuellar, along with Lainey Melnick and Miguel Ortiz.

All 435 members of the U.S. Congress represent a specific district and serve a two-year term with no term limits. The number of seats in the House is apportioned based on population, with Texas currently holding 32 seats.

    According to Henry Esparza, a political science professor at UTSA, the Democratic Party stands a weak chance of making much impact in government. 24 out of the 32 races being held on Mar. 2 have Democrats running for office, leaving eight of those spots with Republicans running unopposed.

 Esparza reiterates that, while the incumbents typically have a pretty good chance of winning re-election, the underlying theme of this year’s primary is to get the incumbents, particularly the Democrats, out of Congress.       

 Incumbent Democrat Congressman Charles “Charlie” A. Gonzalez has served on the U.S. House of Representatives since 1999. The Congressman represents the 20th District of Texas, which covers more than half of the San Antonio area. Gonzalez considers small business success to be vital to overall economic condition and is in favor of increasing the federal minimum wage. Gonzalez believes health care is a primary issue concerning Congress and is in support of the recent Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Newcomer Lainey Melnick, a real-estate broker from Austin, seeks to bring to the table an emphasis on education with her campaign, placing a focus on investing in the charter school system to provide on par education for students with different learning styles and needs. Melnick supports an education system that will cultivate creative and innovative workers that will be able to keep this country out of the economic trouble we are currently experiencing in present day.

Melnick supports establishing a humane policy towards immigration, particularly a temporary worker program focusing on agricultural jobs. She argues that this would make it easier for immigrants to obtain citizen status and help discourage those who come to the country illegally.

A graduate from the local Saint Mary’s University, Democrat Miguel Ortiz runs for the Texas Congressional 23rd District on March 2. After graduating from high school, Ortiz joined the U.S. Army and served for more than 11 years. Ortiz has received numerous military awards, including five Army Commendation Medals, the Expeditionary Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal. After leaving the Army, Ortiz started a law office in San Antonio and currently practices as an attorney.

Ortiz seeks to influence Congress to create a new system for dealing with veteran health issues by increasing funding and opening both regional clinics and medical centers that will be able to provide fast and essential care to our nation’s thousands of veterans.

Also representing Texas’ 23rd Congressional District is incumbent Ciro D. Rodriguez, who holds a bachelor’s in political science and a master’s in social work. Rodriguez was appointed to the Texas House of Representatives in 1987 where he served for 11 years on the Higher Education and Health Committee. In 1997, he was elected to the U.S. Congress.

            The longtime Congressman seeks to reinvest in higher education and in support of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also commonly referred to as the Stimulus, which would provide millions of dollars to both public and private universities, allowing tuition and loan rates to drop.  The legislation would also provide about $500 to individual Pell grants well as about $200 million to graduate and undergraduate programs in Texas. “The stimulus is calling for an investment in ourselves and our education,” Rodriguez said.

      “Student loans and interests are federally guaranteed… new measures are being taken to cut those rates in half,” the Congressman explains, “When people are in hard times, they go back to reassess where we [the country] are at as individuals, and people tend to go back to school to gain additional skills. We are seeing an increase in enrollment and are trying to ease up on student loans.”

      Congressman Henry Cuellar also believes accessibility to education is a primary goal of modern legislation and is esteemed as the most degreed member of the U.S. Congress. Cuellar also places healthcare reform high on his priority list. Cuellar authored the pilot program outlining Texas’ Children’s Health Insurance Program that now provides millions of kids with health insurance.

 Esparza comments that  it is “important to be unbiased” in any political election. “Republicans and Democrats are tending to disagree for disagreeing sake as opposed to properly representing the people.” With the primary elections being held March 2, Texans are already participating in early voting and doing their research on the issues at hand.

 

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