Texas' 23rd Congressional District seat faces a challenger in the form of Gina Ortiz Jones - a native of San Antonio, an Air Force veteran, a former member of the National Intelligence community, a first-generation Filipina-American, and an out lesbian.
In announcing her candidacy on August 2, Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones said, “I’m running to make sure everyone gets the opportunities that I have had. I’ve seen from my work representing U.S. interests around the world what happens when people don’t get the opportunity to succeed. Our national security starts at home, and it starts with the opportunities that allow for our most vulnerable to become our most promising.”
Jones has never run for office before, and if she wins, she would make history as the first lesbian, Iraq War veteran and first-generation Filipina-American to hold a U.S. House seat in Texas. Her hometown district, Texas’ 23rd, has also never been represented by a woman.
Gina was raised by a single mom who immigrated to the US from the Philippines. Her mother, despite graduating from a prestigious university, had left home to work as a domestic helper in the United States because she believed the sacrifice would afford her two daughters a better life and a shot at the American Dream.
Gina went on to attend Boston University, which she attended on a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship. After graduating with a BA and MA in Economics, and a BA in East Asian Studies, Gina entered the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer, where she deployed to Iraq and served under the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
After serving in the Air Force for three years, she pursued a career in national security, intelligence, and defense which included working for the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, advising on operations in Latin America and Africa, to include advising on military operations that supported South Sudan’s independence referendum and serving in the Libya Crisis Intelligence Cell.
During her last 16 months as a civil servant, Gina worked at the intersection of economic and national security issues. Detailed from the Intelligence Community, she served as the Senior Advisor for Trade Enforcement. She would later be invited to serve as a Director for Investment at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative where she worked until last spring when she decided to move back to San Antonio and run for Congress.
Gina recognizes the real need for more diverse voices in Congress, and that now is the right time for her to throw her hat in. “There’s just a point where you just ask yourself the question, ‘Can I afford not to do this?’” Gina said. “I think like a lot of women, you’re done assuming that somebody is going to do for you that which you can do yourself.”