Residents cite concerns with Corpus Christi first-term congressman
March 31, 2012 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 30, 2012 at 10:31 p.m.
The three most pressing issues for Charla Borchers Leon are border control, healthcare and the 2012 election. Saturday morning, the Victoria native attended a special briefing with U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold to address her concerns.
Leon spent years working in politics as a part of the legislative affairs lobbying team under the Reagan Administration.
She now identifies herself as a community activist who is concerned with the climate in Washington, D.C.
"It was a very different time back then," she said referring to the political changes within the past 30 years. Leon said regardless of which political party people affiliate with, people have to work together.
About 20 people came to the breakfast fundraiser and open forum at the Victoria Country Club for the first-term representative from Corpus Christi.
Farenthold acquired the Victoria area with the redistricting laws. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, from Bakersfield, Calif., served as a special guest. He is the third ranking Republican in the congressional leadership.
The changes to the electoral maps were required because Texas grew by more than four million people in the past decade, with the majority of the growth coming from the Hispanic population.
The Lone Star state picked up four additional House seats. Political consultant Steve Ray said Farenthold wants to have more intimate meet-and-greets with the public to reach them on a personal level.
Farenthold, who defeated 28-year Democratic incumbent Solomon Ortiz, does not take his current position for granted.
"Half of my constituents are new," he said. "It's almost a wide-open seat."
The father of two college students said the biggest issues facing the everyday citizen are healthcare, the economy and gas prices.
"The solution is getting people back to work," he said. He commended the Golden Crescent area for the job growth largely because of Eagle Ford Shale and Caterpillar.
He commended the region for a lower unemployment rate than the national statistic. Victoria County has 5.8 percent unemployment and the national average is 8.3, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Farenthold said part of his reasoning for inviting McCarthy was "I want him to see we do it right here in South Texas."
A third-term representative, McCarthy said he was flattered to be invited to help campaign because he was impressed with Farenthold's candor and willingness to get involved.
Since serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Farenthold has served on three committees: Transportation and Infrastructure, Oversight and Government Reform and Homeland Security.
"The great thing about Blake is, if you're just now meeting him, is what you see here is what you see behind close doors," McCarthy said.
One attendee asked Farenthold about border safety and illegal immigrants taking jobs.
Farenthold said protecting the U.S. southern border is one of the most complex and demanding homeland security challenges because organized crime has increased.
He's in favor of E-Verify, which will require companies to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States. According to his website, he's a supporter of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to provide assistance to law enforcement personnel on the ground.
Before entering Congress, Farenthold worked as a conservative radio contributor, a lawyer and owner of a computer consulting firm.
Leon, who also comes from a diverse background as an avid gardener, political liaison, and community activist, posed the question about how well the parties were working together to take care of the nation's problems.
Farenthold, acknowledged the GOP's victory on Capitol Hill with the budget plan to transform Medicare, cut domestic spending, and construct a drastic, tax code overhaul.
The Republican representative said a healthy debate is acceptable.
"Nobody gets what they want all the time and that's the way our founding fathers would have wanted it," he said.
Leon said she enjoyed her second encounter with the first-term representative.
"After him today, I felt so inspired," she said.