Former U.S. Congressman "Kika" de la Garza speaks to UTPA students
Posted: 02/25/2003
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Former U.S. Congressman "Kika" de la Garza spoke to a crowd of students at The University of Texas-Pan American Tuesday, Feb. 25 during an informal forum titled "A Conversation with Kika."

Former U.S. Congressman Kika de la Garza spoke to a group of students during a forum organized by the UTPA Political Science Association and Political Science department Feb. 25.

The former lawmaker shared stories about his 30-year service in congress, and the many legislative issues he dealt with while in office. Among them were agriculture, immigration, education, colonias and water issues.

"The primary instinct of a member is re-election, so he must satisfy his constituents," de la Garza said. "But In order to legislate effectively, you have to add places and faces."

De la Garza, who served during seven presidential administrations starting from Lyndon B. Johnson to Bill Clinton, chaired the agriculture committee for 13 years while in office.

During the forum, students were given the opportunity to ask questions about de la Garza's experiences. Among many of his responses, de la Garza pointed out the importance of participation and honesty when serving the people.

"The main thing is participation. You can't sit back and say 'I don't like what they're doing.' Get involved and help them (public officials) do what you would like them to do," de la Garza said. "Be honest and have a desire to serve and help people."

The event - sponsored by the UTPA Political Science Association and the Political Science Department - is the first of a series of forums that will give students the opportunity to meet and speak to former or current local, state or federal officials.

"We see this as an opportunity to begin a series of programs that are titled 'conversations with....," said Dr. Jerry Polinard, chair for the UTPA Political Science Department. "We are very fortunate and honored that someone with his (de la Garza) experience would be willing to give up his time to speak to students."

Polinard said he plans to bring public officials to campus each semester. For more information about the series, call 956/381-3341.