Pacheco leaves Texas House. Special election to come.


Leo Pacheco plans to step down from his seat at Texas House in the coming weeks, a move that will result in a special election this fall to fill the vacant position.

The South Side Democrat, currently in the middle of his second term, exclusively revealed to Express-News that he has accepted a full-time faculty position at San Antonio College, teaching public administration. He said he would officially leave his District 118 headquarters within the next two to four weeks.

“It was too good an offer to pass up,” Pacheco said of the teaching post.

After Pacheco’s official resignation, Governor Greg Abbott will be tasked with calling a special election to fill the seat.

Ahead of the announcement of his resignation, Pacheco appeared to face serious political headwinds ahead of next year’s re-election campaign.

Three months ago, the Bexar County Democratic Party censored Pacheco for his controversial vote in favor of HB 1927, a Republican bill allowing Texans to carry handguns without a license.

He was one of seven Democrats to vote for the bill, which was widely vilified by members of his party.

Pacheco defended his vote on the gun bill as a negotiating tactic, a way to show off House Republicans and “work with them to make a horrible, ugly bill less gruesome. and ugly “.

Rumors had circulated on the South Side in recent months that Pacheco might not seek a third term, but no one expected him to step down during his tenure.

Southside Independent School District board member Katie Farias and daughter-in-law of former District 118 representative Joe Farias, had previously planned to challenge Pacheco in the Democratic primary in March 2022.

Upon learning on Friday afternoon of Pacheco’s decision to resign, Farias said she would certainly participate in the special elections for District 118.

“I think we are under-represented in our district,” Farias said. “As a member of the Southside ISD School Board and a mother of two going to college, public education has been at the forefront for me. And I don’t think we’ve done enough, especially with the year we just came out with COVID, for public education. I believe we can do better.

“It really is at the heart and soul of why I run.”

Farias, 41, has spent the past four years working as an assistant to state senator Roland Gutierrez, starting when Gutierrez was a member of the Texas House. (During Gutierrez’s previous tenure as city councilor, Farias’ husband Gabe was part of his team.)

Farias worked as the director of the Gutierrez district office, dealing with voter questions and concerns. She handed in her resignation last week to Gutierrez, in anticipation of her candidacy for Texas House.

“Katie did a terrific job,” Gutierrez said. “I hate losing her. She understood the most important part of the exercise of power, which are the constituent services. She has been on the front lines for us when it comes to these issues. She knows state agencies, she knows how they work and she has understood these aspects of governance as well.

“I think she will make a good candidate and a good representative of the state.”

Pacheco won his seat in stunning fashion, beating incumbent Tomas Uresti in the 2018 Democratic primary. Uresti had been politically damaged by an ethics scandal swirling around his younger brother, then Sen. Carlos Uresti, who sent young Uresti to 12 years in prison on several counts.

Pacheco chaired the Bexar County Democratic Party in the mid-1990s, but more recently had worked as a human resources specialist at Palo Alto College and an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and San Antonio College.

Some of his fellow Democrats have privately complained that he appeared out of touch with the caucus, a free agent whose actions were a mystery to members of his own party.

In an interview in May, Pacheco conceded that “there is not a lot of communication” between him and the rest of the Democratic delegation in Bexar County.

“I don’t interfere in their business, in the way they negotiate, and vice versa,” he said.

Pacheco has not joined his fellow House Democrats on their current trip to break the quorum in Washington, DC, to block passage of a restrictive election bill from GOP lawmakers. But he described himself as “in solidarity” with their efforts and said he chose to break the quorum at his San Antonio home.

Special elections tend to attract crowded fields and this is probably the case for this race. While the district has been a strong Democrat over the years, retired Republican firefighter candidate John Lujan managed an upheaval in the 2016 special election in District 118 when Joe Farias resigned for health reasons.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there were 12 candidates in this race,” said Pacheco.

[email protected] | Twitter: @ gilgamesh470


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