Dionicio "Don" Ysassi graduated from high school and visited Uncle Sam.
He went straight into the recruiter's office and signed up for a military police career. For 20 years Don honorably served our country with his dedicated professional career in the United States Marine Corps. He was a born athlete; he was well suited for this job.
He excelled in football and baseball. He proved himself by making all-district for Robstown High School in both sports. As we spoke, he also remembered a "no-hitter" in baseball against South San Antonio High School that broke their 56-game winning streak. He grinned like a youngster as he recalled his no-hitter.
Mr. Ysassi got pensive when he was talking about his years in high school. He said, "We were not prepared for college during those days. Most of our friends would prepare to go into the work force if they did not intend to go to college." For him, the military job offered opportunities that he might not have taken advantage of otherwise by staying in the civilian work force.
That memory that he shared accompanied another dream that he had when they were led by the constables to out of town football games. It brought to mind the words that he told his friend Raul: "some day I will be leading the buses to out of town football games." He visualized his dreams before he worked to make them. His passion, education and experience in the criminal justice system would take care of the rest.
He knew that military police work was what he wanted because of his fascination with the criminal justice system. His 20-year military career ended on November 30, 1988.
He returned to his hometown and worked for RISD as a truant officer for nineteen years. He had another goal when he retired from his military service. Dionicio wanted to be elected Constable of Precinct 5.
In 1992, he added his name into the local political arena for the first time. He understood that this was the perfect occasion to make it known that he was interested in being constable.
The incumbent constable had a strong desire to stay in office and a strong following to keep him in office. Don would have to be patient and wait many years for his ideal opportunity. Last year, 2008, when the current Constable of Precinct 5 decided to retire, Don felt that the time was now right for his goal to be achieved.
Things fell into place and it was his time to take another run for political office about sixteen years after he had announced his initial run for that office. The second time was the charm for Ysassi. Another dream came true for him.
"I learned and developed my leadership qualities and professional attitude in the Marine Corps. I believe that if you do the right thing, it will pay off," he told me. He was jovial when he said that and added that he has been very lucky in his life. "I have been blessed with a wife, four children and four grandchildren," he said. "I have been lucky to be able to hire Terry Sigur, Chief Deputy, and Oscar Mendoza as my Lieutenant."
Terry has 27 years experience with the Texas Highway Patrol and she is a great leader, too. Having the right people out there doing their job makes you look good. It also eliminates or resolves potential problems. This means the constable department will move forward with positive progress. He added, "I feel good about going to work every day."
His staff knows the chain of command which keeps work orderly. He respects them because they know what they are doing and make the right choices and decisions. "The ultimate blame for anything that goes wrong here will be with me," he said. "But, I have faith in my choices to help me lead because these professionals have training, leadership and discipline. I like the challenge, and I will still learn from others while maintaining a positive attitude."
His attitude as a competitor is that we need to give more than 100 percent to get the job done. He understands that we have to be happy with what we do. Candidly, he shared that he does give thanks to God and feels that we are all watched over by the Lord. We just have to be careful and do the right thing.
Don learned long ago that we do not disrespect our citizens. He believes that it helps build character to have respect and a positive attitude. What is his advice to make progress in this world?
He said, "Be honest. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Establish credibility. Commit yourself to what you want to be and give it 100 percent. A lot of people want to discourage you, but you must go for it. Be persistent, go forward and be positive. Most importantly: have confidence in yourself."
This man surely has confidence and patience. I believe that he understands the concept that "good things come to those who wait if you work at it". Don knows that if you fall down you must get up, dust yourself off and continue on your chosen journey.
One of his goals for the constable's office is to demonstrate ability to work with other agencies and also learn from them. I believe this man will achieve his goals.
Joe Santos Medina is a resident of Robstown. Readers may contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.