Senator Sylvia R. Garcia is a native of Palito Blanco, a South Texas farming community. The eighth of ten children, Senator Garcia saw her parents struggle to raise her and her siblings. Senator Garcia’s parents taught her that with hard work and a good education she could accomplish anything.
As a result of these lessons, Senator Garcia dedicated herself to success at school. She earned a scholarship to Texas Woman’s University in Dallas, where she graduated with a degree in social work. Senator Garcia then received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, working several jobs to pay for her tuition. Just as her parents believed in her future, Senator Garcia believes the children of Texas can do anything if they are also provided a quality education.
Senator Garcia has dedicated her life to her community and to public service. As a social worker early in her professional career, she protected our community’s most vulnerable, old and young, and ensured no one was forgotten.
Senator Garcia continued her public service career by serving as Director and Presiding Judge of the Houston Municipal System for an unprecedented five terms under two mayors. There, she made our city court system more effective and efficient for our community.
In 1998, Senator Garcia was elected City Controller, the second highest elected official in Houston city government and its chief financial officer. She quickly earned a reputation as the taxpayers’ watchdog, fighting to protect the pocketbooks of working families and ensuring the City was transparent and accountable.
After two terms as Controller, Senator Garcia was elected to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court. The first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the office, she continued her advocacy for working families and made certain Harris County took care of its most defenseless, all while making certain Harris County led the way for new jobs and economic development.
Senator Garcia was sworn in to the Texas State Senate on March 11, 2013, representing Senate District 6. She became the seventh woman and the third Hispanic woman to serve in the upper chambers after winning a special runoff election for the seat of the late Senator Mario Gallegos. Even though Senator Garcia was sworn in halfway through the 83rd Legislative Session, she passed several bills, served on five committees and cast 3,908 votes.
During the 84th Legislative Session, Senator Garcia served on the Education, Intergovernmental Relations, Transportation and Veteran Affairs & Military Installations committees and passed 37 of her bills, including the Relationship Privacy Act. This law will create penalties for those who post explicit images without consent of the subject of the photos. Providing for our nation’s veterans was also a large focus for Senator Garcia during the 84th Legislative Session. She passed bills that will expand the eligibility for veteran participation in the specialized Veterans’ Courts, study the needs of our homeless veterans and establish a permanent Texas Women Veterans Program to serve the over 50,000 female veterans we have in Texas.
Active in the Houston community, Senator Garcia has served on more than 25 community boards and commissions, including the San Jacinto Girl Scouts, the Houston Hispanic Forum, the American Leadership Forum, Battleship Texas and the Museum of Fine Arts – Houston.
Senator Garcia has been named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the National Conference of Communities and Justice and chosen as one of “Houston’s 25 Power People” by Inside Houston magazine. More recently, Senator Garcia was awarded the Inaugural Public Service Award recipient at Friends of the American Latino Museum’s American Latino Influencer Awards. She is also a recipient of the Texas Woman’s University Board of Regents Woman of Distinction Award, the Hispanic Scouting Distinguished Citizen Award from the Sam Houston Area Council/Boy Scouts of America, and the Board Award from the San Jacinto Girl Scouts. Most recently, she was honored to receive the inaugural award for public service from the Latino Influencer Awards.
When all is said and done, there is no doubt Sylvia Garcia has dedicated her life to her community and to public service. Just like her parents believed in her future, she believes in the future of Texas families that depend on quality education for our children.
During the 85th Legislative Session, Senator Garcia served on the following committees: Criminal Justice, Intergovernmental Relations, Natural Resources & Economic Development & Transportation.