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Marfa man returns as community outreach liaison for area state senator

July 13th, 2017 under Top Stories
Daniel Hernandez

Daniel Hernandez

By NICK WINCHESTER 

nick@bigbendnow.com

MARFA — Marfa native Daniel Hernandez is back in town to staff state Senator Jose Rodriguez’s Texas Senate District 29 office in Marfa after a six-month stint working the Texas Legislature session in Austin for El Paso state Rep. Evelina “Lina” Ortega.

Hernandez sat down with the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel / Presidio International this week to discuss his return as constituent affairs liaison and what he is here to offer residents.

Tasked with tackling rural issues, which is where he feels his expertise is, Hernandez will staff the office, located at Marfa Elementary School, and travel throughout Presidio, Jeff Davis, Hudspeth, and Culberson counties to offer constituent services. El Paso County is also located within the Senate District 29 but is staffed by the senator’s main office downtown.

“The offices are here for the constituents,” Hernandez says. “We are here at their disposal.”

One thing Hernandez made clear was that every resident’s vote – and voice – matters. “A lot of people say your vote doesn’t count, or your voice doesn’t matter, but I hope to be able to bring about a change of that mindset. You can truly make a difference in policy, in legislation, in the way your government is run, by making your voice heard, by advocating these changes that you want to see,” Hernandez says, adding that this is both a personal mission of his and of Sen. Rodriguez, D-El Paso.

Hernandez, a 2010 Marfa High School grad, previously worked in Marfa for Rodriguez between January 2014 and this January, before heading off to Austin for six months. Hernandez says he enjoyed his experience working with Rep. Ortega as director of constituent services. The experience was formative but ultimately informed him that he wanted to be a public servant helping people in rural communities, prompting him back to Marfa.

Day-to-day, Hernandez’s role is varied. He has the opportunity to work in a lot of different facets of state government, he says, be it legislature, bureaucratic or policy research, as well as working on constituent and elected official out-reach.

This week Hernandez went to Presidio and spent the day with Mayor John Ferguson, Presidio Municipal Development District Director Brad Newton, Presidio ISD Superintendent Dennis McEntire. Hernandez says he met with these officials to offer the services of his office, to participate in future projects, and to work out issues and ways they can help.

Hernandez cited the recent reduction of DPS services in Presidio as one recent example of how his office is able to advocate on behalf of remote communities with the aim of restoring a basic service. Hernandez says his office sent a letter to the agency requesting the driving license services be restored in the city of Presidio and let them know that for someone living in Presidio, it is 160-plus mile round trip to Alpine. The DPS now opens the Presidio office one a week.

Hernandez attended the University of Texas at El Paso for a semester before realizing he was better suited to the college climate at Sul Ross State University, where he pursued a degree in Mass Communications, which he says he is still working on.

Hernandez worked as a dispatcher for the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office for one year, something he describes as “very rewarding work.” From there Hernandez did a three-month internship with former Congressman Pete Gallego at his office in Alpine. While working for Gallego, Hernandez was made aware of the position that was becoming available with the opening of Sen. Rodriguez’s office in Marfa. He applied and was interviewed by Sen. Rodriguez over breakfast burritos at Mando’s.

Reach Hernandez via email at Daniel.Hernandez@senate.state.tx.us; telephone, 432-729-4800; or visit him Monday to Friday, 1-5pm at the Elementary School on 413 West Columbia Street. Hernandez emphasizes that in-person visits may be hit-and-miss due to the amount of time he spends on the road travelling around the district, so he recommends calling him first if you have an issue to discuss with him.

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