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In this series, Texas Tech Public Media sits down with candidates across the board to discuss issues facing their constituents.

Conversations with Candidates: Christy Martinez Garcia for Lubbock City Council District 1

Christy Martinez-Garcia
Christy Martinez-Garcia

For the first time in several years, there will be new representatives on the Lubbock City Council after the May municipal election. That includes District 1, which covers much of northeast and some of central Lubbock. One of the candidates for the position is Christy Martinez Garcia.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: To start, introduce yourself to us and share some of your background.

Christy Martinez-Garcia: So, of course, I'm a Lubbock native. I grew up in the Arnett Benson neighborhood, so I recall being in that neighborhood and seeing the football lights of Texas Tech, illuminate that community. And I always was interested to know what that was. And of course, it was the university. And I remember my aunt, who was just a couple years older than I, and I asked her, ‘What is that?’ And she says, ’It's the college’ and I said, ‘What's college?’ And she said it's a school for rich people.' And I had no idea what either meant, but I knew that I was going to do that.

So on that note, I ended up becoming a graduate of Texas Tech University. I studied public relations and marketing. And then from there, I went on to work in city government. I did other things, but I got the opportunity to go and work at City Hall. I did public information and took on a lot of projects and really got to work one-on-one with the public city officials. And for me, one of the most significant things was putting a face on what's often considered a faceless bureaucracy. I wanted the public to feel engaged and feel welcomed. And so that was really important.

Of course, I also worked in D.C., and then returned back to Lubbock and I started a publication called Latino Lubbock Magazine that is now going on its 16th year. I do a number of different things.

But one thing I've been asked about - that neighborhood. I've always stayed connected to my roots, I've never had a chance to turn from it. I have always been committed to District 1. And so I felt like it was important for me to step up. I was already doing a lot, so I figured it could be even better. I've got my ear to the people, and I wanted to make sure that they continue to be heard, and that they are represented, represented for themselves and not for just their homes. I mean, the rooftops are important, but the people living in there are even more important.

I'm married to Frank, and we have a daughter named Amaris who I just talked into coming back to Lubbock. So that's a very big thing because we're losing a lot of college graduates and young professionals. And I felt like, I think this is another opportunity for me to also serve, because I think young people are so vital to this community.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: I'm curious to know, how often have you attended city council meetings in the past?

Christy Martinez-Garcia: So the past two years have been virtual. And so I think it's important, we did experience a pandemic. So I had a little bit of role in that, and covering press conferences and whatnot. But I have made an effort to be there.

And when I do go, it's always interesting to see the dynamics have really, really changed. I hadn't gone into the Citizens Tower, because of COVID. But I'd seen it online. It's a little bit different than the old Sears building. It's a beautiful facility, but a little bit sterile. But I think, even when I held my announcement, and I recall inviting folks, and people were clueless to where that was. And I thought, ‘Man, this is the Citizens Tower, the public should feel more comfortable of going to it.’ So you know, I'm hoping that through this opportunity, I will make sure that we're gonna get more public engagement.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: What's something that you know you will need to learn more about if you're elected?

CMG: One thing about me is that I am a listener. I think it's important to listen to the public. And not only the public, I know city government, but I think every day you have to be learning.

So for me, it's going to be very important to go in. And also, I've already started contacting departments, I met with the city manager, just to let them get to know me. And I think that is something that's really important. I mentioned to you that when I worked for City Hall years ago, it was about putting a face on what is often a faceless bureaucracy. So I think that that's really, really important as we continue to grow in this community. We don't want to get to the point that we don't know our citizens, that we don't know their needs. So for me, it's going to be very important to make sure that we are connecting our citizens to the resources and services that they need, and that they really understand it. Because oftentimes, they don't always know what department to call for what resources - I told someone the other day, ‘Well just call 311,’ and they're like, ‘What is that?’ I'm like, ‘it's City Hall.’ We've got to just continue to have a more concerted effort of connecting the public to its city hall.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: Tell us about some city-wide issues that you think need to be addressed.

Christy Martinez-Garcia: District 1 has a lot of aging neighborhoods and I think that they've been a little bit neglected. So for me, I think that's going to be something that's very vital for this community. We’re seeing the growth happening all the way to southwest Lubbock. I think 75% of the growth happening right now is, is going southwest, and that's great. But we cannot overlook the needs of the people in District 1.

But I also believe in balance. So I love what I'm seeing, all of the growth happening in downtown Lubbock. I think, as we talk about young people and sustaining some of the college graduates, obviously, we need to have jobs, no doubt. But we also need to have activities that interest the folks to come to downtown Lubbock, and that also are going to give young people some variety.

I think in the past, we used to say there's nothing to do in Lubbock. Well, we're working on that. And I see it, and I think downtown growth is good. It's a balance. And I think it's good in the sense that it also creates opportunity, job opportunities, just really putting Lubbock on the map. I think that's really important. First and foremost, though, we've got to address the needs of these aging communities. We can't keep mandating everything, and letting dollars go only into certain neighborhoods, it's got to be all over Lubbock consistently,

Sarah Self-Walbrick: District 1 is a majority-minority district. About 65% of the district community is Hispanic or Black. What would it mean to you to represent this specific population?

Christy Martinez-Garcia: I already represent that population, I already work with these folks. It's not something new. But I think being in a position where you are policymaking, where you can really address hard issues, I think that is even more important. It's not about just coming in for the politics and, and for personal… I've seen some folks in the past that have gone in for personal needs. It's not about their needs. It's about the needs of those individuals. And I think sometimes some of these communities, we even saw it during the pandemic, there was a lot of no information, no real advocacy. So some of us stepped up to that, myself very much included in that. And I think that's the kind of thing that I will continue to do.

Of course, the other part is that I do want to represent District 1, but as you mentioned, it's only 65% minority. There are other populations that exist in that community. So I want to represent everyone. I move in different circles, and I think that's a very big plus for my being a representative. You talked a little bit earlier about how we're gonna have almost a whole new council. Yeah, I'm a team player. And I think that's the other part is that I have the discipline, the have self-control, and really working with other people and listening, and making sure that we come up with solutions. I don't want to be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution. But I also, like I said, want to make sure that this neighborhood or this district doesn't get left behind.

Sarah Self-Walbrick: And lastly, why should voters cast their ballot for you?

Christy Martinez-Garcia: I talk about often how I have been involved in the community. I have so many projects to prove that. And I think the public in general, because I move in different circles, because I have done a lot of things, I think they understand my work ethic, and I believe that people trust me. I don't want to go in there and just do politics. I need to do people, we need to do people. And I think it's going to be imperative to have someone that is going to be objective. And being in the business that I'm in, that we're in, that has really disciplined me to understand the significance of being objective, but also doing your work and due diligence so that you're really showcasing the questions from the public, but also, that you're helping to address those.

So for me, it would be an honor and I would be completely humbled to get to have that title of District 1 City Council Representative. Regardless of that, I will continue to do that work, but I really hope that people understand how significant it is to have someone that is going to be addressing their needs and not that of their own.

Early voting for the municipal election begins April 25 and goes through May 3. Election day is May 7.

Sarah Self-Walbrick is the news director at Texas Tech Public Media, where she leads the news team and focuses on underreported stories in Lubbock. Sarah is a Lubbock native and a three-time graduate of Texas Tech University. She started her career at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.