Incumbent District 27 U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz said while he understands the recent backlash against the Democratic Party across the nation, he believes he and his party still have the answers to solve the country's problems.
Ortiz was born in Robstown, and served in the U.S. Army until 1964. In the 1960s and 1970s Ortiz held a number of public offices, including Nueces County Constable, Nueces County Commissioner and Nueces County Sheriff. In 1982, he was elected to his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives for District 27, a position he has held for the past 28 years. Ortiz has two adult children.
Ortiz said one of the biggest challenges facing the district right now is the economy, but he pointed to a number of areas in which he said he has worked to bring jobs to the Coastal Bend.
Ortiz pointed to $100 million in construction projects at the Corpus Christi Army Depot, and said the depot has seen its number of employees increase from 3,800 to nearly 6,000. He also said he had worked to bring $60 million in construction projects to NAS Kingsville, which had brought added jobs to the area.
"When we talk about construction work, not only are we trying to expand the presence of our military bases, but what we're trying to do is also create jobs by having construction workers, architects and engineers come to build these facilities," Ortiz said. "I want to be able to put people to work. When the fathers and mothers are working, they can send their kids to school, they can buy whatever the family needs. To me, that is the most important thing."
Another key issue of this campaign is immigration, and Ortiz said he had worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to begin unmanned aerial vehicle patrols from Corpus Christi to Laredo.
"Border security is of the utmost importance to me," Ortiz said. "We need to secure our borders because we want our families to feel secure and comfortable that the intruders are not going to come on this side of the border and commit some of the violence that is happening down there."
Ortiz also said he had worked to pass a border security bill that brought an additional $600 million in funding to the U.S. Border Patrol and added 1,500 more agents.
If he is returned to Washington D.C., Ortiz said one of his first priorities will be to find unspent stimulus money and redirect it to areas that can use it immediately.
"Some communities still have stimulus money they have not spent," Ortiz said. "I'm going to see what communities have not spent this stimulus money. If they cannot, for whatever reason, let's move the stimulus money so we can put people to work."
And although the Comprehensive Healthcare Reform bill passed by Congress earlier this year was broader in scope than Ortiz would have preferred, he said an important job facing the House of Representatives over the next few years is the gradual implementation of all of the plan's provisions.
"It seems to be working out, but I would have liked to have started with the 30 million people and have worked from there instead of passing a big, comprehensive bill," Ortiz said. "But, let's see how it works, and it seems to be working fine."
Ortiz said the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan need to be brought to a swift end, as the long-term deployments are taking their toll on military personnel and their families.
"Our soldiers are getting tired of those deployments," Ortiz said. "We are concerned, because we are starting to see a lot of suicides among our soldiers."
Ortiz said his experience in elected office - first as a constable, then as a county commissioner, then as a sheriff and finally as a U.S. Representative - gives him a strong advantage over his Republican and Libertarian opponents.
"When I have moved from these different positions, I have a better grasp of the needs of the communities," Ortiz said. "And I have better contacts. I listened to so I can be guided by the feelings of the community."
While Ortiz said he shared many of the frustrations voiced by voters in recent months, he believes his opponents cannot offer the answers the public seeks.
"People are angry, they are dissatisfied with government. But we cannot solve these problems by working with a party that says, 'no, no, no, no,'" Ortiz said. "If we're going to be able to solve the problems we have to do, we are going to have to talk to one another."