Michelle Vallejo, a Hidalgo County native, is ready to show Texas’ 15th Congressional District that she is prepared to do what it takes to win. Vallejo ran for the congressional seat in 2022 after the open district was titled in favor of the GOP, but this time, she is confident that her race will be the one to watch. Michelle grew up in the district, owns a small business, and values community efforts above all else.
Michelle was born in Alton, Texas, and has seen the growth of her hometown in real time. While small in size, the people who reside in Alton are larger than life. Vallejo’s parents are Mexican immigrants who started a flea market business in Texas. While pursuing the prospect of opportunity, Vallejo’s family dealt with the struggles of being so close to the border. Her political beliefs and convictions developed as she worked alongside her parents to uplift those around her. During COVID-19, Vallejo turned her flea market into a drive-thru so that people could still get the items they needed as the pandemic changed lives. Vallejo observed how families would have to return to Mexico to be able to afford items such as medicine. Michelle had one goal: to become a voice for South Texans in the halls of Congress.
Everyone’s exposure to politics is different, but for Michelle, her earliest memory began at home. Vallejo saw that her family business was at the intersection of a dangerous road only controlled by a single stop sign. This issue, ironically enough, signaled to Michelle that something needed to change. Community leaders wrote a letter to the city, and their work led to an intersection light that increased the city’s safety. This instance was when Vallejo realized if people join together for a common cause, real change can happen. While she was in awe of her hometown’s spirit, Vallejo’s family are her first heroes. She cited her mom as someone who was a role model and leader. Michelle’s mom tragically died young of multiple sclerosis, but her strength allowed her to navigate running a business and raise a family. Vallejo remembers her mother being tired while cooking a meal, but she never stopped showing up for her family. These memories are why Vallejo feels so strongly about affordable and accessible healthcare for South Texans, as she recalls having to travel so her mother could get the necessary care. As an honorable mention, she also stated that Selena Quintanilla, Queen of Tejano music, served as inspiration from a young age. Singing her songs, sharing her stories with the rest of her family, and remembering feelings represented by such a strong woman served as a positive memory.
One issue that Vallejo connects to is equitable access to resources. As an alum of Columbia University, she saw firsthand the opportunities available to her peers, but Vallejo felt she couldn’t breach that barrier. Coming from a rural town, achieving lofty goals seemed “unattainable.” Vallejo soon understood she could “fight for what she needs right where she was.” In order to curb the “brain drain” and loss of bright minds in rural Texas, access to resources is paramount. Michelle has seen the effects that inequality has on the morale of a community and has the drive to change that narrative. “We can invest in the right ways, in our own home,” she said.
Everyone has a place they call home, and for Michelle, home is everything. She stated that her greatest achievements are her ability to lean on those around her. When things got tough, she was able to receive support from her community to run for office and pursue a career in public service. Candidly, Vallejo admitted that she decided to run for office a few weeks before the candidacy deadline. Those around her, especially her father, saw her as a viable candidate who would do anything to uplift her community, and despite not having any experience in electoral politics, she felt she was up for the challenge.
Michelle Vallejo is a fiery, indomitable spirit with infectious Texas pride. Her passion for diversity, equality, and opportunity is truly something to admire. While being a candidate for Congress isn’t easy, the uniqueness of this opportunity fuels Michelle to keep pushing. She leans on her team and her support system to ensure that her campaign is a well-oiled machine, but at the end of the day, she loves the one-to-one interactions with those she seeks to represent. Michelle imparts her desire to remove the financial barriers of running for office, as it impacted her race in 2022. However, despite all these challenges, twists, and turns of Texas politics, Michelle Vallejo is here to stay.