The first candidate to challenge Republican Rep. Will Hurd for the Texas 23rd Congressional District seat is a native of San Antonio, an Air Force veteran, a former member of the National Intelligence community, and an out lesbian.
In announcing her candidacy on August 2, Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones said, “I’m running to make sure everyone gets the opportunities that I have had. I’ve seen from my work representing U.S. interests around the world what happens when people don’t get the opportunity to succeed. Our national security starts at home, and it starts with the opportunities that allow for our most vulnerable to become our most promising.”
Jones, a career civil servant who served in the Air Force in Iraq under George W. Bush and as an intelligence officer under Barack Obama, stayed in her job as a director in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. But by June, she couldn’t do it anymore. Trump’s plans to gut education and housing aid hit too close to home for Jones, as someone who relied on reduced-cost school lunches and subsidized housing when she was a kid being raised by a single mom in San Antonio. She was also appalled by the president’s hires for top jobs.
“The type of people that were brought in to be public servants were interested in neither the public nor the service,” Jones, 36, said in an interview. “That, to me, was a sign that I’m going to have to serve in a different way.”
She found a new way to serve: She’s running for Congress. Jones has never run for office before, and if she wins, she would make history as the first lesbian, Iraq War veteran and first-generation Filipina-American to hold a U.S. House seat in Texas. Her hometown district, Texas’ 23rd, has also never been represented by a woman.