Erin Gámez: A heart in Brownsville
Erin Gámez currently serves in Texas House of Representatives District 38, which covers parts of her hometown Brownsville. She was the first woman elected to this district and, at the time of her election, was the youngest in the Texas House. Gámez’s connection to Brownsville shaped her personal culture and political views. She says her heart lies with Brownsville.
Gámez attended University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate studies and South Texas College of Law in Houston for her juris doctor. Gámez always knew that she wanted to go out into the world and learn, but only with the condition that she would return to Brownsville and use that knowledge to help her beloved community. Gámez cites her father as the biggest role model in her life. Growing up, he always told her that he did not care what she did as long as she always tried to be the best at it. Her father served as an attorney for over 40 years, so Gámez grew up in the courtroom. This inspired her to follow in his footsteps. After obtaining her J.D., she returned to Brownsville and started trying cases with her father at their family firm, gaining practical experience in the field of law. It motivated Gámez to fight for the citizens of Brownsville.
Gámez points to a high school government and history class she took when she was 14 as the first time she became interested in the world of politics. She was fascinated with the legislative process and fell in love with state and local government. She saw how communicating with state and local representatives can lead to tangible effects in the world and at that point knew she wanted to be a part of that transformative process someday.
Gámez always knew she wanted to run for state representative but before being able to do so, she needed to be sure that she felt comfortable in her ability to take care of the family law firm. At 29 years old, she knew then that she was ready to take the next step in her political career. She first ran in 2019 against Rep. Eddie Lucio III, but lost the primary at a close margin. In 2022, Rep. Lucio III called to tell her he would not be seeking reelection. She ran and won the primary and then won the state representative seat soon after in a special election.
Campaigns are a difficult, fast-paced process and come with many challenges. Fortunately, Gámez's campaign never struggled as a result of a lack of energy and enthusiasm. It was important to Gámez that the community voting for her would be informed about the position when she was elected. Her campaign motto, “We might walk holes in these boots, but we’ll get it done,” exemplified her determination to reach her community in a meaningful way.
Brownsville, Texas is a border town and as such, it experiences issues unique in comparison to other Texas cities. Gámez sees border security as a big issue for her community, as she believes everyone deserves the right to feel safe in their home. She supports local border patrol and believes that in order to achieve border security, the state and federal legislature should work together to provide a community for citizens to feel safe. Gámez also points to the issue of advocating for teachers in Brownsville, as Brownsville ISD is the largest employer of the community. She believes there are many creative ways to increase teacher funding and that it is essential to advocate for both current and retired school employees within the community.
An issue that is close to Gámez’s heart and is vital to her community is the state funding of mental health programs. Gámez understands that while people have been afraid to have the conversation surrounding mental health, it is important to do so. The criminalization of people suffering from mental health issues is something that Gámez sees as a detriment to the people living in the state of Texas and she does not want to see this criminalization continue as a result of a lack of resources for these people. Gámez states that it was her calling to be in state politics and as such it is her responsibility to work to improve the services available to the people in her state, in all areas of health. For these reasons, mental health resources and services are a priority for Gámez.
When asked what advice she would give to future generations of women interested in the field of politics, Gámez replied “Don’t stop.” Gámez knows that it can be intimidating to pursue a career in politics but that it is important to not ignore that little voice inside your heart that is fearless and curious. She advocates to let it guide you to where your passions lie. Gámez’s arrival into politics in the state of Texas was the result of listening to her own voice and relentlessly following her passion for service.