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On The Record: Carla Vela

For this episode of On The Record, we speak with Carla Vela, the Chair of the Bexar County Democratic Party and Vice Chair for the Tejano Democrats.

By Grace Stevens

What was your personal progression from the role of activist to the role of County Chair and the Vice Chair for the Tejano Democrats?

My family was always political, and I started off working with Matt Garcia. Matt Garcia formed what was then named the Mexican-American Democrats, now the Tejano Democrats, and I was a member. I was elected chair after Matt passed away.

I ran for precinct chair, and became the local chair for the Tejano Democrats. This position led to my current position of Vice Chair of the Tejano Democrats.

Two or three years ago, the local party was in trouble and I ran for County Chair and was elected.

What would you say are the primary issues concerning Bexar County?

Like every county, getting out the vote is a concern for our party. When I became County Chair we had a lot of clubs throughout the area, but there was no organization. The area was fractured, and I helped bring them under the same umbrella.

We still do not have enough precinct chairs; we only have 170 for the County.

Who are some of your political heroes?

Matt Garcia is a hero of mine; he began my work in politics. President Clinton was the greatest President we ever had.
Barbara Jordan and Ann Richards were heroes of mine as well.

What are you looking forward to in the coming cycle?

My main goal is to at least fill half of the precinct chairs in my county that are empty, and raising enough money to keep the office running. Hopefully, we will have a new Governor and a new President.

What advice would you give to young people just getting into politics?

Get involved, even if it is just a rally of Democrats at the local headquarters. Politics determines everyone’s future, and every vote is important whether it’s for the local city council or the President of the United States. All of these votes determine our political future.

In Bexar County, we have involved the college Democrats and the high schools, and Madeleine Dewar has helped here in the office coordinating these different groups.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in politics?

You can’t believe everything you hear. Unfortunately, the media has a way of turning words and situations around. You can say a comment on an issue and the quote can be changed by the media.

Know the candidate and know what they stand for, don’t be gullible.