Courtesy of the Melissa Aguillon campaign
Our Q&A series with the candidates running for Mike Villarreal's Texas House of Representatives position continues with candidate Melissa Aguillon, a local public relations and marketing professional. We still have no date for the special election, though.
[Related: Q&A with Texas House District 123 Candidates: Diego Bernal]
Tell us about your background. How will your professional experience inform your work at the Legislature, should you be elected?
I have almost 20 years experience working in San Antonio. I have experience in both the public and private sector. I’ve worked at City Hall working for (State Rep.) Jose Menendez when he was a city council member. Within the city structure, I worked for the city clerk’s office and the economic development department, where I was writing small business plans and working with them to get access to government contracting. I’ve worked in the private sector with different companies where we’re trying to obtain government contracts. That experience came in handy as well, where I was able to assist in creating teams that were also diverse, including other small businesses and women-owned and minority-owned businesses, to compete for contracts.
Now, as a small business owner and being somebody that’s actually created jobs and having worked and assisted other small businesses grow, I think that’s a huge advantage for me. Understanding how to create new jobs and the challenges of starting a business, all of that helps because 97 percent of businesses here in San Antonio are made up of small businesses...I have to make payroll, I have to pay my employees. And, as a mother and as somebody with young children going through the education system, I understand the needs that working families have as well. I have the voice of the people and so I feel as though I’m the best person to represent them and also to listen, of course, to find out what’s important to them.
You have also been involved on the civic level: a member of San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board, UTSA alumni board and Leadership San Antonio. How will that influence you?
I have been involved for a number of different reasons. One of the reasons was because I’ve learned a lot from the community, and I wanted to give back. UTSA is a great example of that. I am where I am because of the education that they’ve provided for me. The least I could do is go back and help other graduates be engaged and bring UTSA to the forefront of other alumni. I love being involved and helping and so that was one of the first organizations that I took a lead role in. I was honored to be involved in the Hispanic Chamber board of directors, serving as communications chair, and helping other small businesses. It’s not just a membership, you have to put in in order to get something out of it. That’s what I’ve learned. I do it because it’s something I love to do because I love to engage and represent the community. This is an extension of what I would at the state Legislature, representing people and moving forward, bringing their issues to the forefront.
You don’t have a political background, per se. Does that bode well for you? Or do you anticipate a learning curve?
As I mentioned, working at city hall for five years, I really learned a lot there about moving policy forward. I have continued with a lot of those relationships and built new relationships as a result from my time at city hall. That is one of the things that distinguishes us in my line of work because we do have a lot of long-term relationships in San Antonio. When I say that, it’s relationships in the business community, in my work with UTSA, also different elected officials, some of those council members are now state representatives. There are a lot of different relationships from people that I’ve worked with.
What will your top priorities be if elected to the Texas Legislature?
Top priorities are quality education, good jobs and equal opportunities for all Texans. I visited with the majority of the Bexar County delegation and I understand that what is needed is someone who can work well within the party and work well with others, even though we might have differing views.
What do you include when you say “equal opportunities?”
At the forefront for me, access to capital, access to contracts, access to affordable health care, anything dealing with senior issues and veterans initiatives, higher education and women’s health care.
We have some work to do on the state level: public education, transportation and health care to name a few. How do you plan to work with colleagues to solve some of our state’s most pressing challenges?
I think it comes down to communication, and that’s what I do for a living as a communications expert. It’s not just about getting a point across but it’s about listening to concerns and building consensus. I bring that to the table and I look forward to working with the Bexar County delegation and the state.
What differentiates you from your opponent?
First of all, I’m a mother, and I understand firsthand about the important of education, I attend events at school and visit with families on a regular basis. The fact that I’m a small business women and I’ve created...that’s something that I’m looking forward to sharing with other people, that experience and being able to resonate with them on that level. I’m very proud of where I’ve come from in the last five years growing this business and I’m excited about helping others start and grow their businesses as well and bringing up issues that are important to families and other business owners in the community.