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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Meet Graci Garces and Robert Gallegos, the two Candidates running for Houston City Council District I in the Saturday, December 14, 2013 Runoff Election in Houston, Texas

Houston City Council -- District I
Graci Garces vs. Robert Gallegos
HOW GRACI AND ROBERT MADE THE RUNOFF: On Tuesday, November 5, 2013, Graci Garces finished first in a very tight (4) four candidate race for the Houston City Council District I seat. The current incumbent James Rodriguez was term-limited and could not run for re-election. Since Garces did not receive a majority of the vote, she must now face off against Robert Gallegos on Saturday, December 14, 2013 to seal the deal. Other candidates who were on the ballot were Leticia Gutierrez Ablaza and Ben Mendez. Graci Garces ended the night with 2,313 votes for 27.08% of the vote to finish first. Robert Gallegos ended the night with 2,138 votes for 25.03% of the vote to finish second and force the runoff.


 According to her campaign website, Graciana “Graci” Garces is a life-long community-oriented and passionate public servant, who started pursuing her dream to better her community in the office of Congressman Ruben Hinojosa as an intern. Upon returning to Texas, she worked for several pioneers of our Texas community including former State Representative and now Texas Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, the late State Representative Irma Rangel (the first Mexican American woman elected to the legislature and author of the “Top Ten Percent Plan”), Representative Juan Escobar (an advocate for Veterans) and State Representative Dora Olivo (an advocate for public education).

 Graci has moved up the ranks from intern to Chief of Staff to Houston City Council Member James G. Rodriguez. Her passion for public service has led her to make tremendous improvements to the offices she has worked in. She has over ten years experience in the public sector, with an emphasis on grassroots initiatives. Ms. Garces possesses extensive knowledge and experience in constituent services, coalition building, neighborhood revitalization and community empowerment.

 In 2007 Ms. Garces’ remarkable coalition building skills were represented when she served as the lead staffer to the overwhelmingly supported expansion of the smoking ordinance in Houston. Her successful efforts earned her a position as the Grassroots Director for the Smoke-Free Texas (SFT) campaign. In that capacity, she organized and led hundreds of volunteers and supporters throughout the State of Texas to lobby the legislature in only three months. Her ability to relate and cater to her audience allowed her to gain the support of Texans of all backgrounds, despite ethnicity, age and political affiliation. The relationships and database she developed are still used today in SFT’s quest to create a healthier Texas.

 Ms. Garces remains a tenacious public servant who makes the improvement of Houston neighborhoods her priority, focused on public safety, economic development, and overall improvement of residents’ quality of life. Ms. Garces is the immediate past President of the Denver Harbor Seniors Board of Directors and a former board member of the Latino Learning Center Board of Directors. She is a member of the Tejano Democrats, serves on the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce and works closely with the District I Management Districts, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) and Civic Associations.

 Ms. Garces is the youngest of five siblings. Her mother was a Teacher’s Aide who lost a battle to cancer in 2005, her father a crop field foreman who passed in 2010. She is the first of her family to earn a college degree – Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas State University – San Marcos with a major in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Ms. Garces attends Lakewood Church. She strives to set an example as a strong Latina and dedicated public servant for her three-year-old daughter, Zyenna Dahni Bell.


 According to his campaign website, Robert Gallegos was born at Parkview Hospital on 75th and Harrisburg and was raised in Magnolia Park. Robert attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church & Elementary School, where he was baptized, received his Holy Communion and was confirmed. He attended Edison Junior High School and was active in both the marching and stage bands. Robert became president of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Youth Organization (C.Y.O.) and went on to graduate from Stephen F. Austin High School.

 A graduate of Houston Community College, Robert earned an Associate’s Degree in International Trade & Distribution and went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University.

 He’s a member of the National Hispanic Professional Organization, a member of LULAC Council 402, served on the Board of the Gulf Coast Community Services Association, and is certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE).

 Robert spent over 25 years in Logistics Sales in Motor Freight and International Trade. He served as a Community Liaison for Former County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia with an emphasis in Galena Park, Jacinto City, Aldine, and City Council Districts H & I. Robert currently works for the Harris County Sheriff’s Department.

 Robert is an experienced community leader and organizer with deep ties to District I neighborhoods and their residents.


 •President, Houston Country Club Place Civic Club (HCCP); Active in the Civic Club for over 20 years; Secured new sidewalks along Lawndale; worked on No Parking On The Grass ordinance for Houston Country Club Place; Fought the Solid Waste Department to approve recycling for HCCP; Garnered support for protesting a liquor licensing renewal for a troubled local establishment near his neighborhood.

 •Founder, Organizer, and First President of the Greater Eastwood Super Neighborhood 64/Lawndale Wayside Super Neighborhood 88; The Super Neighborhood Council meets once a month to address issues and concerns that affect the area’s neighborhoods. The Super Neighborhood has provided a strong voice for these neighboring Civic Clubs.

 •Rallied support from East End Civic Organizations (Magnolia Park/Pineview Civic Club, East Lawndale Civic Association, Idylwood Civic Club, Houston Country Club Place Civic Club, Eastwood Civic Association, Oaklawn Fullerton Civic Club, Second Ward Super Neighborhood, Greater Eastwood & Lawndale Wayside Super Neighborhood, East End Chamber of Commerce and East End Management District.) to weigh in on METRO plan to construct a massive overpass on Harrisburg Boulevard for the light rail line. The East End Rail Subcommittee was formed and helped convince METRO and Mayor Annise Parker to approve an underpass instead, that protected historic Harrisburg Blvd, prevented the East End from being split up, and which, in time, will help bring economic development into the East End.

 •Chair, Rufus Cage Educational Alliance. Organized and secured support of East End Civic Organizations, Washington Ave Super Neighborhood 22, Greater Heights Super Neighborhood, and Hobby Airport Civic Clubs to stand united in support of saving the old Rufus Cage School, and convince Mayor Parker to accept the school property from HISD. Now working to renovate and convert the school into a Performing Arts Community Center that will benefit the education and promotion of the arts for the youth in the East End.

 •Submitted request to the City of Houston for a Railroad Quiet Zone, which was approved and will be the first Quiet Zone in District I. Phase 1 of the Quiet Zone is Telephone Rd to Polk Ave and Phase II is Polk Ave to Navigation. The Quiet Zone will keep trains from blowing their horns unless there is an emergency.

 •Secured letters of support from community elected officials and District I Civic Clubs for construction of a pedestrian bridge over Brays Bayou at Mason Park. As a result, the Houston Parks Dept submitted a proposal to TxDOT for a grant to construct the bridge. A pedestrian bridge over Brays Bayou will provide easy access for pedestrians, connecting the north and southside of the park.

 •Assisted the founder and first president of the Downtown Super Neighborhood in helping set up their Super Neighborhood Council.