Rep. Aaron Pena, D-Edinburg, has announced he will run for a fifth term for District 40 in 2010.
Speaking at a campaign fundraiser held Tuesday, Oct. 27, at Edwards Abstract and Title in Edinburg, Pena said, "we have the responsibility to make our community stronger" to a host of state leaders and city officials present for the announcement.
Those in attendance included state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville; former congressman Kika de La Garza; Reps. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen; Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito; District Attorney Rene Guerra, attorney Ramon Garcia; and mayors Richard Cortez and Richard Garcia.
Re-election to the House would make Pena the senior member of the Hidalgo County delegation following an announcement in September by Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, a 13-year legislative veteran, that he will not seek re-election once his term ends in 2011.
"It is our responsibility as parents and stewards of this earth to make it a better place than what we found it. I want to think that in the past seven years in the legislature,with Veronica (Gonzales) and the senators and the legislative delegation we have been able to do that," Pena said at the event.
"We have been very successful in the last couple of sessions, and I think we need to keep going," he said.
Lawmakers have considered the 81st Legislative Session a "huge victory" for South Texas. The framework for a future medical school, increased aid for veterans, along with raises for teachers and police are some of the highlights of the session which lasted from January to May.
Sen. Lucio authored and Pena was among those who sponsored SB-9, the centerpiece of the Valley's legislative agenda, that authorizes the creation of a medical school in the Valley. The bill intends to transform the The Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) into a standalone four year school. Funding for the facility will begin in 2015 to enable the University of Texas System to move forward with development and planning, lawmakers say.
Highlights of the state's $182.3 billion budget includes an increase of $1.9 billion for public education, $1.2 billion for higher education, $2 billion for new roads, $450 million for cancer research, and $208 million for people with mental disabilities.
Peña earlier told the Edinburg Review that some of his greatest successes this session came for Valley veterans, as he authored legislation granting tax relief to disabled veterans, and petitioned the U.S. Congress to build a veterans hospital in South Texas.
"The future is ours, it really is. No longer are we considered the poor stepchildren of the state," Pena said. "You know they said the medical school was impossible, that it took years upon years for El Paso to even dream about such a thing. We did it one session. You, Sen. Lucio may have drafted it many years ago…but we did it because we are more creative, and we are able to overcome our difficulties."