Our Champions = Committed to Texas Partners’ Values and CREDO. Each Champion earns a Gold Coin.
Judith ZaffiriniTexas State Senator District 21
- Occupation: Communications Specialist; 13 years of teaching experience
- Education: The University of Texas at Austin, B.S., M.A., Ph.D.; University of Houston; Laredo Junior College
- Legislative Experience: Senate Member: 1987 - present
- Hometown: Laredo
- Party: Democrat
Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) represents the 21st Senatorial District, which stretches from the Rio Grande to the Colorado River and to the Port of Corpus Christi and the Valley. Re-elected in 2016 in a ninth landslide victory, she is the first Hispanic woman elected to the Texas Senate, the second highest-ranking senator, and the highest-ranking woman and Hispanic senator.
Her appointments provide countless opportunities to champion the priorities of SD 21, the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, which has generated billions of dollars in economic activity for our state. As Senate Chair of the Eagle Ford Shale Legislative Caucus, Senator Zaffirini prioritizes the district’s continued prosperity, and as Vice Chair of the Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee and member of the Energy Council since 2009, she promotes responsible, sustainable development of Texas’ energy resources. What’s more, she helps protect and conserve the district’s air, land, and water resources such as the Rio Grande, the Edwards Aquifer, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Through the State Affairs Committee, she addresses issues such as bond issuances and eminent domain, and through that committee, and, as a member of the Judicial Council and the Texas Access to Justice Commission, she champions preventing cronyism and corruption in the legal system, promoting access to justice, and protecting persons under guardianship. As a member of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, she advocates for large and small Texas businesses and workers, and as a member of the Senate Administration Committee, she prioritizes issues of importance to local governments in the 18 counties of SD 21. Health care is a major industry in the district, and as an expert in the health and human services policy and funding, Senator Zaffirini advocates for improved health services, especially for the very young, the very old, the very poor, veterans, and persons with disabilities.
Her legendary work ethic is reflected in her 100 percent voting record, having cast more than 60,000 consecutive votes, and her perfect attendance in the Texas Senate since 1987, except for breaking quorum deliberately to prevent an untimely re-redistricting that the U.S. Supreme Court (2006) ruled violated the Voting Rights Act and disenfranchised voters in SD 21. She has sponsored and passed 1,024 bills and 53 substantive resolutions. Showing her bipartisan effectiveness, in the 2017 Republican-dominated Texas Legislature she passed 109 bills, breaking her record of 102 and passing more bills than any other legislator for the second consecutive legislative session. What’s more, she has passed more bills than any other legislator in the history of the State of Texas.
Senator Zaffirini has received more than 950 awards and honors for her legislative, public service, and professional work, including more than 280 in communication. They include being named to the “All Decades Teams” for the 2000s and the 1990s and 10 Best of the 2017 Legislature by Capitol Inside and a Hero of Hope by the Laredo Morning Times; receiving the Mary Holdsworth Butt Award from Mental Health America of Texas and the Pinnacle of Achievement Award from the Center for Health Care Services for her legendary leadership for persons with emotional, physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. She received the “People’s Friend: Lord’s Work Award” from the Texas Observer, and The University of Texas at Austin named her a Distinguished Alumna in 2003; an Outstanding Alumna of the Moody College of Communication in 2016; awarded her the Presidential Citation in 2013; and inducted her into the UT Daily Texan’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Texas Monthly has named Senator Zaffirini one of Texas’ “10 Best Legislators” four times and given her the “Bull of the Brazos” award and an “Honorable Mention.” She also received the Legislative Hero Award from the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Godmother of Texas Children Award from Teaching and Mentoring Communities and was named a Legislative Champion by Texas oil and gas leaders. Interestingly, she was named Sister Judith, an Honorary Nun, by the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Ministries and Mr. South Texas by the Washington’s Birthday Celebration Association.
The senator is the namesake of Laredo Community College’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Library and Texas A&M International University’s Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, as well as of the Senator Judith Zaffirini Road and Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary School in Laredo and the AAMA Judith Zaffirini Residential Center in Edinburg. Her son, Carlos Jr., endowed scholarships in her name at The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas A&M International University. He also established the Carlos Sr. and Senator Judith Zaffirini Access to Justice Initiative, which pays for bar review courses and exam fees for low-income UT law school graduates who, in turn, will represent low-income clients. What’s more, the Beaumont Foundation endowed a scholarship honoring Senator Zaffirini and her husband at A&M International, where the annual Senator Judith Zaffirini Medal is presented to faculty and students who excel in scholarship and leadership. The senator is featured in 25 books and referenced in 19.
Dr. Zaffirini is an award-winning communication specialist with 13 years of teaching experience, including at the college and university levels. The South Texas Press Association has honored her for her distinguished career in journalism and public service. Press Women of Texas (PWT) and the National Association of Press Women have recognized her communications expertise repeatedly with awards for her publications, speeches, and public relations campaigns. PWT twice named her its Communicator of Achievement, and Junior Achievement of Laredo named her a laureate of its Business Hall of Fame.
Through her business, Zaffirini Communications, she provides professional communication services, including consulting, workshops and seminars, one-on-one coaching, keynote addresses, and writing. She also is president of the Mr. South Texas Foundation and of the D&J Alexander Foundation and of its two subsidiaries, D&J Alexander Investments and D&J Alexander Development.
A distinguished communicator, educator, businessperson, and leader, she holds B.S., M.A., and PhD degrees from UT-Austin, each with a 3.9 grade-point average.
A lector at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and member of the Texas Philosophical Society and of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, her professional memberships include the Texas Press Women, International Communication Association, Texas Speech Communication Association, the American Institute of Parliamentarians and the Association for Borderlands Studies. Judith and Carlos Zaffirini have been married for 52 years. Their son, Carlos Jr., an attorney and businessman, and Audrey welcomed their first child, Asher Maxwell Zaffirini, in June!
John Zerwas, M.D.Texas State Representative District 28
- Occupation: A physician for more than 30 years, Representative Zerwas is one of four doctors in the Texas House of Representatives
- Education: After graduating from the University of Houston, he earned his Doctorate in Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in 1980
- Legislative Experience:
Representative John Zerwas, M.D. is serving his sixth legislative term in the Texas House of Representatives. He proudly serves the citizens of Texas House District 28, which encompasses northwestern Fort Bend County and is currently one of the fastest growing regions in the State of Texas.
In 2017, Representative Zerwas was named Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee by Speaker Joe Straus. Previously, Representative Zerwas served eight years on the House Appropriations Committee, four of which he served as chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on health and human services. Zerwas is a member of the Legislative Budget Board, is past chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, and a past member of the House Committee on Public Health.
In the 84th Legislative Session, Representative Zerwas served as Chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education. This was his first term to serve as the chair of this committee. Chairman Zerwas is an advocate for increasing access to higher education and growing opportunities for graduate medical education. Since 2009, Zerwas has also served on the Committee on Public Health, where he brings firsthand experience and knowledge of health care systems and policy to the committee.
A physician for more than 30 years, Representative Zerwas is one of four doctors in the Texas House of Representatives. His perspective is important at a time when health and human services is one of the fastest-growing areas of state spending. Dr. Zerwas is past-president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. More than a decade ago, Dr. Zerwas co-founded a Houston area group practice which recently became part of US Anesthesia Partners, and he remains active in the operations of the partnership. He has previously served as the President of the Memorial Hermann Health Network Providers and Chief Medical Officer of the Memorial Hermann Hospital System.
Representative Zerwas has earned numerous accolades for his dedication to public service including being twice named one of the “Ten Best Legislators” by Texas Monthly. In 2015, the Biotechnology Industry Organization provided Dr. Zerwas with national recognition as “BIO Legislator of the Year” for writing critical legislation that will preserve patient access to innovative and cost-effective biologic medicines in Texas. He has earned numerous accolades for his dedication to public service, which include the 2014 Coalition for Texans with Disabilities Award and the 2014 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Award.
John graduated from Bellaire High School in 1973, and in 1978, he married his late wife Cindy Hughes. After graduating from the University of Houston, he earned his Doctorate in Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in 1980.
Eddie Lucia, JrTexas State Senator
- Occupation: Advertising Executive
- Education: Pan American University, B.S. Education
- Legislative Experience: Experience: House Member, 1986 - 1990; Senate Member: 1991 - present
- Hometown: Brownsville
- Party: Democrat
A native of Brownsville, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. began his public service in 1971, becoming Cameron County Treasurer and later Cameron County Commissioner. After having served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives, he was elected to the Texas Senate in 1991. He is third in seniority and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Relations.
A relentless advocate for the Rio Grande Valley and the ranch lands of the coastal bend, he improved access to higher education to strengthen the South Texas economy. His legislation created several colleges and universities in Rio Grande Valley including a medical school.
During his tenure on the Finance Committee, Lucio worked to secure state funding for South Texas infrastructure, which contributed to the designation of the first interstates in the Rio Grande Valley.
Lucio grew up in the Bougainvillea Neighborhood –A Subdivision of the Brownsville Housing Authority- where the challenges of his childhood influenced the cornerstones of his legislative agenda.
As he prepares for the Legislative Session, Senator Lucio is guided by the values he learned growing up in Brownsville, which were enriched as an educator and cultivated in the corridors of the State Capitol, by putting people first and advocating for hard-working families of South Texas.
Alex DominguezCameron County Commissioner for Precinct 2
- Legislative Experience:
Alex Dominguez is an attorney and currently, the Cameron County Commissioner for Precinct 2, which serves Brownsville, Rancho Viejo, Olmito, San Pedro, and Cameron Park.
“I’m the 6th of 10 children born to a migrant farmworker family. We didn’t have much financially as you can imagine. But we did have faith, family, and a strong belief in education. Seven of us have been or are currently teachers or administrators. For the past 22 years, my family and some great friends have been hosting a 5K Scholarship Race from which the proceeds go to high school seniors. I’ve been on that board forever. I’ve also been a board member of CASA of Cameron and Willacy Counties since 2012. Kids matter.
“I’ve worked with three different county judges, four different commissioners and numerous elected officials. I have enjoyed working for the public as a county commissioner and will continue to do so for the next year. Due to election rules, I have been unable to make this announcement until December. I’m excited. I believe I have the energy, experience, and awareness to be a great state representative.”
Alex serves on the Brownsville MPO, the Lower Rio Grande Development Council, the Animal Shelter Committe, the county Audit Committee, and the Brownsville EDC. In 2017, he was elevated from the policy committee of the Conference of Urban Counties to their board of directors where he is the Vice Chairman for Administration. He is also a board member of CASA of Cameron and Willacy counties.
“As a county commissioner, we determine the county budget, establish county policies, address indigent health care services and work for the betterment of the quality of life of those in the county. Since joining the commissioners court, we joined the effort to bring Space X to Brownsville, implemented vast improvements to county parks including Isla Blanca and E.K. Atwood on South Padre Island, and negotiated several economic incentive agreements to bring much needed jobs to the area. In my own precinct, I worked to finish the street paving project in Cameron Park, bringing street lights to Olmito and San Pedro, addressing the clean water needs of residents of San Pedro, and introducing the first all-inclusive playground in the county.”
Ready to lead this district in Austin and still be available to everyone back home.
“I believe that District 37 needs a representative who will not only represent the public during the legislative session, but will also work in coordination with the County Commissioners Court and city commissions to bring much needed jobs, infrastructure, and exposure of what this area has to offer for the full two years of the term. As a former educator, I want to be a voice for students at UTRGV to push for their education needs.”