Latino group finding ways to help candidates win, as Dallas community college race shows

Dallas Morning News
Gromer Jeffers Jr. Follow @gromerjeffers Email
Published: June 21, 2016 11:47 am

(De izq. a der.), el presidente del Latino Center for Leadership Development Miguel Solís, el fundador de la organización Jorge Baldor, con algunos de los ganadores de las becas: Jesús Perales, Itzel Ruiz, Elvia Jazmín Soltero, Areli Zarate; además de la directora ejecutiva Rebecca Acuña y la directora de proyectos especiales del Latino CLD Melissa Alfaro.

Founder Jorge Baldor (second from left) and the Latino Center for Leadership Development (Karina Ramirez/Al Dia)


After years of setbacks, Dallas-area Hispanic candidates have a lot to celebrate.


Monica Lira Bravo

On Saturday, Dallas lawyer Monica Lira Bravo was elected to the Dallas County Community College Board of Trustees, winning in a mostly Republican district.
Bravo’s victory has added significance because she’s a fellow in the inaugural class of the Latino Center for Leadership Development’s Leadership Academy.

She joins two fellow classmates in victory, including newly elected Dallas schools trustee Jaime Resendez and Cockrell Hill City Council member Claudia Sandoval, both elected in May.

That means the academy is 3-for-3 in local elections this year.


Claudia Sandoval

“We’re pleased that the academy served as a pipeline for these qualified young professionals to enter public office,” said Rebecca Acuña, the Latino Center for Leadership Development’s executive director. “These fellows have used their expertise and determination to step into positions of leadership and benefit residents across Dallas County.”

The Leadership Academy has its sights on an even bigger prize in November. That’s when Dallas lawyer Victoria Neave will face off against incumbent Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, in the House District 107 Texas legislative race.

The center was formed in 2015 to help develop a new generation of Hispanic and other candidates for local public office.

Over the years, Hispanic candidates have lost ground in North Texas. In Dallas, the number of Latinos on the City Council dropped when a Hispanic candidate could not win a Pleasant Grove seat that was drawn to give Latino voters the chance to elect the candidate of their choice.

Shortly afterward, in 2015, Dallas businessman Jorge Baldor founded the center.

In May, Resendez became the first Hispanic elected leader ever to represent Pleasant Grove.


Jaime Resendez

Now the Academy is looking to November, when Neave, a Democrat, makes her first run for public office.

If Neave wins, the academy will have a unbeaten record for its first class.

But Acuña is already proud of the group’s success.

“Their perseverance and desire to make a difference in their communities make us all proud,” she said.