Living the American Dream: State Representative Rafael Anchía
By Durhl Caussey
Texas State Representative Rafael Anchia is the son of immigrants from Mexico and Spain who came to America to fulfill the “American Dream.” Education has always been important to the Anchia family. Rafael’s mom worked her way through college and would later become a public school teacher.
Through her example, Rafael realized that the way to achieve his own personal dream was to work hard and get an education. His grades in public school were high, which allowed him to earn a scholarship to Southern Methodist University. His intellect was such that he had a triple major in American Studies, Spanish and Anthropology. Though the classes were rigorous and time consuming, Rafael graduated with honors, and even made time to study in Madrid, with an emphasis in Spanish art, literature, politics and history. His efforts and success were rewarded with a scholarship to Tulane University in New Orleans, where he would concentrate on international and public law. In his advocacy class while at law school, Rafael worked on legislation that ultimately became law, creating a statewide ombudsman to monitor conditions in Louisiana nursing homes. In law school, he served as a volunteer advocate for immigration detainees denied the benefit of counsel.
Anchia’s first public service job was as a member of the Dallas Independent School Board, where he served two terms on the board. As a DISD board member, he helped lead a successful effort of the school district to approve a $1.37 billion school board package. He served as Vice President and chaired the Governance Committee during his tenure. “I was proud to be a part of something that would help thousands of children benefit from new, improved and less-crowded classrooms,” said Anchia.
Anchia recently joined the law firm of Haynes & Boone, LLP. He will be working to help improve the opportunities and challenges of those in need in the Latino community.
Anchia was elected in November of 2004 as the State Representative of House District 103. The district encompasses parts of northern Oak Cliff and extends north, including parts of Irving, Farmers Branch and Carrollton. Parts of West Dallas, La Bajada, Los Altos, Love Field, and North Park claim Anchia their representative as well.
In 2006, Rep. Anchia was reelected by a wide margin to continue filling the 103rd house seat for the next two years. The “Rising Star” award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas was given to Representative Anchia in 2003 for contributions made to improving the lives of young people in the community. And in 2005, the league of United Latin American Citizens honored him with its National Man of the Year Award at its annual conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In 2006, the Hon. Rafael Anchia was unanimously re-elected to the Board of Directors, and named Chair, of the National association of Latino Elected and Appointed officials (NALEO} Educational Fund to serve a three-year-term. “This is an honor that I am most proud of,” stated Anchia. “This organization gives hundreds of people across the country the opportunity to get a good start in learning about government and the role they could play in developing their philosophy toward that government. As the second largest population group in the country, Latinos have the unique opportunity to lead the nation as we elect our nation’s leaders and participate in greater numbers in the electoral process,” concluded Anchia.
The NALEO Educational Fund is the leading nonprofit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.
These are some of the many awards and recognitions that State Representative Rafael Anchia has received recently.
1. Texas Monthly 2005 “Rookie of the Year.” The Texas magazine hands out rewards for the Best and Worst Legislators each session, and they also recognize the Rookie of the Year. Former Best Legislator Steve Wolens was the legislator who had retired when Anchia was elected to the legislative district. Veteran government officials commented that Anchia’s finest hour may have occurred when leading the fight over school vouchers.
2. Anchia was named “Freshman of the Year” by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and a “Top Freshman” by Capitol Insider who wrote of him, “fellow House members got to know Anchia this year as a lawmaker who has the poise, intellect and style to be a major star on some higher level.”
3. League of United Latin American Citizens conferred upon him their National “Man of the Year” in Little Rock after the local chapter had selected him the LULAC State of Texas Man of the Year.
During the 79th Legislative Session already concluded, Anchia helped to pass various bills that allowed local and state authorities to crack down on prostitution, protect children from sexual predators, initiating an emerging technology proposal by the government, and give preference to contractors who provide health insurance coverage to their employees.
Anchia is one busy man. I caught up with him by phone as he was on the way to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. It is quite surprising to find someone as important as he is to be so kind and humble. Throughout the interview, Anchia referred to his family, his love for his wife Marissa and daughters Sophia and Maia, and the importance of his faith. The family worships with the Catholic Campus Community at SMU.
Anchia outlined several proposals he has for the next session of the legislature, which opens in January.
“I want to focus on making my neighborhood a better place to live,” says Anchia in his rich ethnic but easily understood English. “To reducing crime in my community by closing down massage parlors, and ridding the streets of prostitutes. As a father of two small daughters, I want to insure that sexual predators are dealt with severely and never allowed to harm our children again.”
His voice filled with emotion when expressing his views against the lawless that prey on the weak, young, and innocent. “Closing down the sex trade in the Northwest Dallas area is a primary concern of mine. There have already been 30 arrests and 10 establishments closed down because of legislation passed in the last session of the Texas House. I was proud to be a leader in that effort.”
“Clean air for all Texans will be another of the goals I hope to accomplish,” continued Anchia. “We all bear a certain level of responsibility to do our part to make Texas a cleaner state. Cleaner cars, tax incentives and attention to clearly defined goals will receive much of my attention. We need to give tax rebates for those that choose to drive hybrid automobiles which travel further on less gas and do less damage to the environment. Some vehicles should receive a 100% tax break because they use fuel that does so little damage to the environment. The state needs to invest in solar batteries research for cars and wind power for homes. Texas has a long way to go when it comes to replacing fossil fuel power plants with those that process and produce clean fuel.”
“Our water supply will determine our future here in Texas,” said Anchia. “Lakes are emptying and water depletion is a real problem that must be faced. Cities must be given the resources so they can attain their future water needs. We at the state need to expedite that process and develop laws that make water availability a priority in the next session of the legislature.”
After talking to Representative Anchia, it is easy to like him. He is smart, kind, independent of thought, and a man who loves his family, treasures his community, and has the spiritual convictions to look beyond the imperfections of human kind. My mom would call Anchia a “keeper,” and I suspect the citizens of his district know that already.
Rafael Anchia is living the American Dream and he wants us all to have the same chances and opportunities he has had. What a noble undertaking.