When asked about some of the greatest challenges facing the Valley, senatorial candidate and Houston mayor Bill White said leaders need to listen to border communities on dealing with border issues.

White held a campaign stop at Treviño’s Restaurant on North Closner Blvd. on Sept. 14. White is running for U.S. senator in the wake of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s, R-Texas, bid for governor of Texas against Rick Perry in 2010.

In attendance for White were Mayor Richard Garcia, City Council members Noe Garza and Gene Espinosa, state Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, Hidalgo County Democratic Party officials, as well as former congressman Kika de la Garza.

White is running against John Sharp, a former Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, on the Democratic ticket. White said he is getting “great support” from local elected officials.

“Support is building for a U.S. senator that will represent all the people and do what’s right,” White said. “We can’t have senators that just cast negative no votes and will never be a constructive part to a solution.”

As of July, more than 3,000 supporters had contributed more than $4.4 million to White’s campaign for U.S. Senate, putting him in the fundraising lead for all candidates in the race. Rep. Peña went as far as guaranteeing White’s victory in Hidalgo County saying he has the support of the people in South Texas.

“Hidalgo County always goes Democrat, that’s one. And two he’s the strongest Democrat in the state. So I’m guaranteeing he (White) is going to win. He has the support of the players,” Peña said. “I wish Mr. Sharp the best, but he’s not going to win. Because he (White) has the support of the people in South Texas as evidenced by the people in this room and the earlier meetings he has held.”

Edinburg officials, including Mayor Garcia, said they support White’s bid for senator because he is in touch with border issues. Garcia said he is confident that if elected White can help secure funding for the city’s South Texas International Airport and other regional priorities.

“He has been an amazing producer in all aspects of his career, working with both the Democratic Party and serving as mayor,” Garcia said. “I think the biggest indicators of his abilities are that not only does he run the largest city in the state, but after facing adversity the way he did following Hurricane Ike and others … I think we can put his (abilities) to good use for all of us in the state not just for the city of Houston.

“The friends and contacts he has in the area, the people he has worked with in the party — this is an indicator that he does have a lifeline to some of our local movers and shakers. I don’t expect that to change and I expect it to magnify,” Garcia said.

White said he has many ties to the Valley and visited the region many times during his stint as under secretary of energy in the Clinton administration.

White has gained wide support from leaders across the Valley including state Reps. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, and Peña.

Across the state more than 30 state representatives have endorsed White, including Coastal Bend lawmakers Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, and Solomon Ortiz, Jr., D-Corpus Christi. Another border lawmaker backing White is state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine.

“We need to work for more jobs and that means more infrastructure investment,” White said. “We need to attract more employers, which means we need to improve education … mayors and county commissioners know that it would be great to have somebody who is a former mayor representing the State of Texas.”