Monday, 01 March 2010 14:21

Imagine a young Mexican-American boy walking through Bexar County Courthouse. It’s just another day at work, shining shoes for those walking in and out of this busy workplace.

(Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo has enjoyed a sterling career as politican, public servant and artist. Our correspondent Diana Arevalo profiles Elizondo in this interview.)

His father works at Kelly field as a watch repairman and his mother

 works at a sewing factory.

Those strolling by don’t look like him or have a Spanish surname. The blond-headed women walk by and ask if he is lost. He smiles and laughs. He knows he won’t shine shoes for the rest of his life. His dreams and ambitions are bigger than any of these people could imagine. He knows that one day he (too) will be like these people and work in the Courthouse.

This is the story of Paul Elizondo.

Today, Paul Elizondo is known to the public as a Bexar County Commissioner, a musician, a teacher and a Marine Corps veteran.

As a child, his parents taught him the importance of being servicial. The idea of serving others was an integral part of his character as a young man. He served as a Cub Scout with Henry B. Gonzalez as his Cub Scout Leader. He was inspired by Gonzalez and men like Gus Garcia.

Elizondo began venturing into music in high school.

“I started in the ninth grade. I was a late bloomer” claims Elizondo whose education continued at St. Mary’s University with a major in music.

He soon embarked on a teaching career that began at Callaghan Middle School in Edgewood ISD.

“I didn’t make much money, but the greatest thing about being a teacher was seeing your students compete in competitions and win,” explained Elizondo. “Even seeing your students jump reading levels were some of the happiest memories of being a teacher.”

While teaching, Elizondo worked as a musician with his band the Paul Elizondo Orchestra to support his family. “Looking back it feels good to know that as a musician, I inspired many of the great Tejano musicians that people see today.”

He enjoyed teaching, and was able to share his passion for music with students as a Band Director in Edgewood ISD and in San Antonio ISD.

Elizondo soon began a career in the political world to change school funding and help his students. According to Elizondo, his mother called everyone she knew and told them that mijo was running for office and his father told everyone at Kelly.

He ran to serve the people as a State Representative and won. “When I won, I felt like Robert Redford in the movie, The Candidate.”

Elizondo explains, “Once I was in the Texas Legislature, I was able to change some things when it came to school funding. I wanted to help the kids. But, overtime and after I left school funding changed. It’s the nature of politics.”

Running to serve on Commissioners Court was an opportunity to be servicial.

“Most of the people who run for office are mostly doctors and lawyers. People go to them when they have problems. I was different. I am a musician and was with people during the happiest moments in their lives whether it was performing at a wedding, a birthday, or

a dance. I was happy that the Paul Elizondo Orchestra was there to celebrate with them.”

However, being a County Commissioner opened up opportunities to enhance the quality of life for Bexar County residents and Elizondo’s constituents, and also brought the Commissioner’s Court into the 21st Century.

“As a musician, I learned to always be prepared, have a strong work ethic, and to pay attention to the quality of music.”

These were some of the lessons that prepared Elizondo for a career in politics. “In politics, this means that I have to know as a much as possible on every issue affecting the people I represent.”

As a Bexar County Commissioner, Elizondo has enhanced our community.

From creating a Diabetes Center to funding $500 million for projects without raising taxes Elizondo has been a trailblazer addressing the needs of the people.

“There are so many projects I created, but I’m glad that we were able to start a flood control program that wasn’t reactive for the people, created a Diabetes Center and neighborhood clinics, and attracting new businesses like Metronics. Trabajos are important to the people I represent,” explained Elizondo.

While walking the halls of the Bexar County Courthouse, Elizondo knows he has traveled a long journey. Being servicial was just a way of life for Paul Elizondo. Familia played a vital role in his political career. “I couldn’t have achieved anything without my parents, my wife, my sons. They’ve all helped me.”

The young man that was inspired by Henry B. Gonzalez and Gus Garcia has inspired many others to be public servants. “I even think I inspired some opponents as well,” Elizondo said jokingly.

Paul Elizondo’s advice to those who wish to follow in his footsteps is to “Create your own path. You have to be your own person. But, make sure to be prepared and give it all you got.”