HOUSTON (KXAN) — State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, announced her intent to resign from office. In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, she said she plans to vacate the office Jan. 2, 2019, assuming a qualified candidate is elected and sworn in. Garcia made the announcement in a tweet on Monday.
“Over three legislative sessions, 12,187 votes taken, over 100 bills passed, every action I have taken has been with the goal of ensuring that Senate District 6 and Texas is a place where the American Dream is attainable for everyone; no matter who you are or where you come from,” she wrote to Abbott.
Garcia, a lawyer by trade, is running for Congress to represent the east Houston-area district held by Rep. Gene Green, who announced last year he would not seek re-election.
In her letter, Garcia asks Abbott to hold an election on Nov. 6 to fill her vacancy in time for the 86th Legislative session next year.
Requests for comment from the governor’s office and Texas GOP had not yet been returned Monday afternoon.
According to the Texas Election Code, Garcia’s resignation letter initiates a vacancy much sooner than her planned January date.
Texas Election Code states, “If an officer submits a resignation, whether to be effective immediately or at a future date, a vacancy occurs on the date the resignation is accepted by the appropriate authority or on the eighth day after the date of its receipt by the authority, whichever is earlier.”
Once Garcia’s resignation becomes official, the governor can call a special election that lines up with the next uniform election date (Nov. 6 in this case), or an emergency special election, which can be held “on a Tuesday or Saturday occurring on or after the 36th day and before the 50th day after the date the election is ordered.”
Garcia’s staff told this reporter they were working to clarify her announcement after the revelations referenced in the election code.
Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement upon Garcia’s announcement, calling her a “tireless progressive fighter for Texas families.”
“She has dedicated her life to serving others, building community, and fighting for the fair shot every Texan deserves,” Hinojosa said.
“Thankfully, Sylvia is not done fighting for the people of Texas,” Hinojosa continued. “She is making history by becoming one of the first Latinas to represent Texas in Congress. In her next chapter of public service, Sylvia will do what she has always done, speak truth to power and fight for her constituents.”
Veronica Escobar, who is running for the seat currently held by El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke, would join Garcia in making history as the first two Latinas to represent Texas in Congress, if elected.
Two Houston-area Democratic legislators already lined up to replace Garcia, State Reps. Ana Hernandez and Carol Alvarado.
Garcia took office in 2013. Prior to that, she was a Harris County Commissioner, held multiple roles with the city of Houston, and served as a social worker.