San Antonio — The Congressional candidate for District 23 Gina Ortiz Jones has proven that hard work and dedication can bring change to the community. Jones has faced many battles and obstacles in her life from helping her mother through a fight with cancer to battling the naysayers in politics on Capitol Hill.
Jones’ biggest motivator in life is her mother; her mother has shown her what it means to fight for what you believe in through her battles as a single mother raising two girls to her battle with colon cancer. Jones’ mother graduated from the number one university in the Philippines, but decided she wanted more; so, she left for the United States to go after the American Dream and had to make many sacrifices including working multiple jobs to provide for herself and then her children.
Jones is a graduate of John Jay High School right here on the west side of San Antonio and understands that some situations can be more difficult than others. According to Jones, “not everyone has the same challenges and opportunities and I know some of them are kind of unique when you grow up in the kind of community that I did.” In 2013 Jones started a scholarship called “Leadership Through Service” that is awarded annually to students of John Jay that have succeeded in the classroom and in their community.
Jones received an ROTC scholarship to Boston University where she graduated with a BA and MA in Economics. Jones knew she wanted to serve her country, so she joined the Air Force and became an intelligence officer. Upon returning from serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Jones’ mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer, which then led Jones to decide on leaving the Air Force and return to San Antonio to help her mother battle cancer. Upon her return to San Antonio, she worked at Fort Sam Houston continuing her career in intelligence and national defense by advising military operations throughout Latin America.
Jones said, “My own upbringing has changed my desires to go into public service.” Jones decided to enter the race to represent District 23 in Congress because she felt the voices of the people were not truly being heard and wanted to give back to the community that gave her so much, but wanted to give back in the best possible way through public service.
Even though Jones has worked in public service for more than a decade obtaining the resources to run for Congress has still been difficult. However, Jones said “I knew I was taking a gamble when I jumped in this, but that’s why I think it’s so important we do take the chance and do this because it’s never going to change unless our voices are part of the discussion and that’s why I am so committed to making sure that our community is heard and part of the process.”
Protecting our healthcare benefits is one of Jones’ top priorities. Jones said, “Healthcare falls into three buckets; people either cannot afford it today, they are fearful they won’t be able to afford it tomorrow, or they simply can’t get to it with this district 70% rural.” Jones says she truly understands what the value of healthcare benefits are since she like many others grew up on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
A fun fact about Jones is that she actually did a six-week program at Our Lady of the Lake University prior to her senior year of high school. It was a program that helped kids get a step ahead going into their senior year. Jones said, “It was an awesome course on chemistry and an awesome course on calculus.” Jones feels programs like these are important when investing into the future generation’s higher education.
Jones feels investing into our future generations workforce by making sure there are programs to help students go to college or other programs to help those wanting to go to a trade school or get advanced skills training. Also, Jones believes we need an immigration policy that “reflects our values” and believes that it should be seen as an opportunity and a key way to address some of the economic challenges faced as a country.
Investing in veteran services not only for the veteran but for their families as well is important to Jones, and she believes that we as a country need to become smarter with military spending. Having a combat veteran like Jones in Congress brings that sense of understanding of what the sacrifices made by the military and their families truly mean especially since there are not very many veterans left on Capitol Hill.
For the younger generation, Jones has a few words of advice on the importance of voting; “This is not the time to sit back and say someone else has got it because they don’t and if your voice is not heard then that’s unfortunate because these policies are going to affect you whether you like it or not, so you need to vote to make sure these policies best reflect what you want and the country that we all are so proud of.”
For more information on Gina Ortiz Jones visit her website at www.ginaortizjones.com