Sylvia Garcia is a native of Palito Blanco, a South Texas farming community. The eighth of ten children, Garcia saw her parents struggle to raise her and her siblings. Garcia’s parents taught her that with hard work and a good education she could accomplish anything.
As a result of these lessons, Garcia dedicated herself to success at school. She earned a scholarship to Texas Woman’s University in Denton, where she graduated with a degree in social work and political science. She 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, she believes the children of Texas can do anything.
Garcia has dedicated her life to her community and to public service. As a social worker and legal aid lawyer early in her professional career, she protected our community’s most vulnerable, old and young, and ensured no one was forgotten.
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. In 1998, she 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, she 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.
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.
Over three terms in the Texas Senate, Garcia fought for her district and advocated for veterans, immigrant rights, women’s health and access to healthcare. She passed numerous bills including the Relationship Privacy Act which outlaws revenge pornography, the Truckers Against Trafficking Bill, which requires human trafficking training for commercial drivers, and the School Bus Safety Act, which requires school buses in Texas to have seat-belts.
Active in the Houston community, 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.
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. She has been awarded the Hispanic Scouting Distinguished Citizen Award from the Sam Houston Area Boy Scouts of America, the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund Matt Garcia Public Service Award and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus Eleanor Tinsley Award.