It has been just over 8 months since Adrian Garcia was sworn into office to be the next Harris County Commissioner of Precinct 2. Since that very first day, Commissioner Garcia has been working feverously to make Precinct 2 better than how he acquired it: increasing public health awareness, creating a program to connect youth and adults to educational opportunities, supporting bail reform, improving local drainage, just to name a few. Every day is a new opportunity to take on the day and make a difference for the people of Precinct 2.
Most recently, Commissioner Garcia was in the spotlight for supporting immigrant communities. Despite the difference in opinions many had, Commissioner Garcia stood his ground and moved forward by proposing a resolution which calls on national leaders to adopt legislation that comprehensively reforms immigration policy, to end inhumane conditions in detention facilities, to keep families intact, and to rethink enforcement operations that separate families. Many in the business community supported Commissioner Garcia in raising these issues because the current approach is actually hurting many businesses who need a workforce that is willing to do the tough work within the construction industry.
However, the fight to make Precinct 2 a better place, where people can come work and reside, does not stop there. We sat down with Commissioner Garcia to have a one-on-one about his first 8 months in office. He talked to us more about his vision, focus points, and goals for Precinct 2 as we move forward.
Can you talk to me more about what has been your focus these last 8 months?
GARCIA: Making Precinct 2 better than how I received has been my main goal since becoming Commissioner of Harris County Precinct 2. I want to make sure that this Precinct is a destination place for people, where they can work, play, and raise a family. In the 8 months that I have been in office, the priority has been to focus on some of the important issues. Such as Precinct 2 having among the lowest income of all Harris County, among the lowest home-ownership rate, among the lowest educational attainment rates at the High School and post-High School level, among the highest number of families without health insurance, and we have the highest rates of diagnosed cancer among children and adults in Texas.
The list for what we have been doing is very long, but we have got a lot more to do.
Every single day, I have an opportunity to work on something that is important to someone in our community. I have been working to make sure that we are focusing on these matters and more: protecting families by prioritizing our flood mitigation programs, improving local drainage in neighborhoods, and increasing the budget for the Public Health department on day one.
Why was that important?
So many of us depend on Public Health. That department has many great things to offer, but they need the tools, resources, and people to get the job done. I want to make sure that every child in Precinct 2 has an equal opportunity to get the best quality of life, so they can spread their wings and achieve phenomenal things. With all the challenges that Precinct 2 faces day by day, I believe that there is a kid in Precinct 2 who is going to cure cancer, create new business opportunities, become the astronaut who will take us to Mars, or create new ways to protect our environment.
You recently created a new program to help future college students. What is this program about? Why was it important for Precinct 2?
Free SAT College preparation. As I mentioned, kids can achieve incredible things, but they need the right tools and opportunities. In this case, it is access to quality education. Sometimes a good SAT score makes all the difference on whether they get that opportunity or not. Sometimes these students and their family members do not have the means to afford a preparation class. I wanted to bring this equal opportunity to the youth and adults of Precinct 2. Now, Precinct 2 is offering free SAT college preparation courses for those kids, who cannot afford these. Many families, who can afford to pay for such programs, have paid up to $2,000 per child so that their kids can have a quality college experience. I believe that every child deserves a chance to learn in some of our nation’s most prestigious universities, and I am hopeful that this program will help to create that opportunity for many who otherwise would not have a chance at achieving their educational dreams!
We all come from different walks of life in Harris County and Precinct 2. I am the only American-born of an immigrant family. I know that the spirit, interest, and desire that my family had when they came here was to work hard, play by the rules, and give back to this country. I was blessed to be born in the United States and right here in Precinct 2. I know that there’s a lot of families who have that same desire today. We are a diverse community, where we speak over 200 languages in Harris County, and it’s important to give [them] our support because every day immigrants are making our economy stronger, better, and resilient with their commitment to this country. We cannot forget the history of this country and how it was built: by immigrants.
Business leaders today— even strong vocal Republicans— have said that a broken immigration system hurts our economy. I want our national leaders to sit in a room, discuss how to improve the immigration system and not leave until they can come up with something that will lead our nation to a better place and keeps our nation a welcoming place for those who want to contribute to our continued success.
It is not right that today, families should be preparing their children for the possibility that their parents could be detained while they are at school, a situation that could send a family into an abyss of uncertainty and permanent separation.
I was a police officer for 23 years; I have been the director of the City of Houston’s Anti-Gang Office; a Houston City Council member; the Sheriff of the largest county in Texas; and a Mayor Pro Tem
p. Every single point of my career has been a blessing. As a patrol officer, I had the opportunity to see where the government failed: un-kept sidewalks and closed-down businesses, and how this can cause neighborhoods to become havens for criminal activity.
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