September 27, 2023 822 PM
EL PASO — Last Thursday, Cesár Blanco announced his plans to run for reelection. A native of El Paso, Blanco represents the massive Senate District 29, spanning Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Pecos, Presidio and Reeves counties. He is currently running unopposed.
If elected, the next legislative session will mark Blanco’s second term in the Senate after previously serving in the House of Representatives for six years. Coming from a border community, immigration issues have topped his list of priorities — but the majority of his district by land mass is rural, putting a unique twist on his approach to some of the hottest political topics in Texas.
In June, Blanco secured $36 million in the state budget to reimburse landowners who reported damage to their property by smugglers or migrants. “I’ve visited with many landowners and farmers and have heard many stories over the last two years about how their private property has been impacted by increased bailouts in relation to trafficking and smuggling activity at the border,” he wrote to The Big Bend Sentinel.
Blanco considers that bill just the tip of the iceberg. Though he believes true immigration reform must come from the federal government, there are other smaller goals he had hoped to achieve in the last legislative session. SB 1126 — another bill the senator filed — would have allowed nonprofits and other organizations serving as shelters for migrants and identifying migrant remains to apply for state and federal funding.
Last session, Blanco also repeatedly turned his focus to the issue of healthcare. “We need to continue investing in [improving] access and options to healthcare and emergency services so rural Texans do not have to travel hundreds of miles to access quality healthcare,” he said.
In June, Blanco successfully filed and passed a bill authorizing the Big Bend Regional Hospital District to provide a regional EMS solution. Loss of staffing, leadership and funding in local EMS departments across the tri-county area sparked a desperate series of conversations about how to better support the health and safety of patients in an extremely isolated, cash-strapped region.
Ultimately, Blanco sees Medicaid expansion as the solution to many of the problems his constituents face. “Medicaid expansion would be a lifeline for our rural families and hospitals, which is why it will continue to be a healthcare priority for me,” he said.
A few of the senator’s other big-ticket items included water and wastewater infrastructure — especially given the issues surrounding colonias, or community developments without running water, across the borderlands — as well as funding rural schools and blocking private school voucher programs popular with candidates across the aisle.
While running for re-election across one of Texas’s largest legislative districts isn’t easy, Blanco insisted that his campaign wouldn’t impact his ability to serve the area. “At the end of the day, my focus remains solely on continuing our hard-fought progress, fighting for our fair share of resources, and standing up for our border and West Texas communities,” he said.