I am a fourth-generation Texan, born and raised in El Paso where I have served as a small business owner, a city council representative (2005-2011) and a member of Congress (2012-2018). In Congress, I worked on the Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Armed Services committees. I was most successful in my focus on veterans, increasing the number of mental healthcare providers in the El Paso VA Clinic, expanding access to mental health care for those veterans with other than honorable discharges, and working with Republicans and Democrats to make reducing veteran suicide a priority. I also authored successful legislation to protect Castner Range in El Paso from future development and passed legislation that grants every separating service member access to a mental healthcare screening. I am married to Amy O’Rourke and together we are raising Ulysses, Molly and Henry in El Paso’s historic Sunset Heights.
I have centered my life in public service on putting people first and listening to the voices of those too often ignored. I’ve tried to combine advocacy and direct action with direct service in recognition of the reality that if you ask people to stand up for a cause you should be willing to stand with them.
In 2012, I was elected to Congress where I focused on El Paso’s veterans, most of whom are people of color and often felt unheard and unserved by the Government for whom they sacrificed. I was successful in increasing the number of mental healthcare providers in the El Paso VA Clinic, expanding access to mental health care for those veterans with other than honorable discharges, and working to make reducing veteran suicide a priority.
Most recently, I founded and led Powered by People, a grassroots, Texas-based organization that works to expand democracy through voter registration and direct voter engagement. Powered by People has helped register over 250,000 Texans to vote since its inception in December 2019, particularly in African-American communities in East Texas and amongst the formerly incarcerated. During Winter Storm Uri, we raised $1.4 million dollars to distribute water and supplies to Texans who lost power, with a focus on communities that were already under-served.