Student, 18, runs for mayor of S. TX town

February 25, 2011 10:44:31 AM PST
Jorge Isaac Torres not only runs in the Lyford High School Bulldogs track team, the 18-year-old also is running for mayor of his hometown. A very serious young man, Torres plans to build a career of public service, he said. Getting elected mayor would be a steppingstone toward his goal of someday being governor of Texas, he said.

Although he's in his senior year of high school, he's also a college student through a dual enrollment program, Torres said.

"It's a big head start," he said of the chance to take college speech and government classes in high school.

Whether he's elected mayor or not, more college is in his plans, he said.

"If I win, I'll go to the University of Texas-Pan American. If I lose, I'll go to Texas A&M University Kingsville," he said. He also plans to eventually go to law school.

The idea of running for mayor of Lyford occurred to him last summer when he went to Texas Boys' State, Torres said.

"They were getting us prepared to be volunteers, to serve in our community," he said. "They made us run for political office," he said of mock elections at Boys' State.

"I ran for attorney general," he said.

The Texas Election Code allows someone 18 years old or older to run for office in a Class A General Law city such as Lyford, a spokesman for the Texas Secretary of State's Office said.

Home Rule cities such as Harlingen or Brownsville require candidates to be at least 21, the Texas Election Code states.

If elected, Torres will serve a two-year term as mayor of the town of 2,611 people.

Torres wants to boost economic development in Lyford by capitalizing on its location on busy Expressway 77, he said. While Lyford needs to build up its business community and seek industries, it must also capitalize on what it already has, mainly cotton, agriculture in general and the attraction of a small town that avoids most big city problems such as street gangs and crime, he said.

If elected mayor, he plans to work closely with the police department to improve safety and security, he said. Most crime comes from expressway traffic, but so would prosperity, he said.

His family lived in Edinburg before moving to Lyford and he completed the first eight grades there, but has attended all four years of high school in Lyford, Torres said.

His father works on a ranch, his mother is a housewife and he has two younger brothers, Torres said.

"My parents are very supportive and they think it's a big step," he said. But no one in his family has ever run for elected office.

"I'll be the first," he said. "It's straight from the heart."

Boosting the city's economy and encouraging young people to go to college, but then return to help make Lyford a better place, is his plan, Torres said. Raymondville is Lyford's main competitor, he said.

Although he considers himself a Republican and a fiscal conservative, he doesn't think his personal stance on the issues is what's really important, he said.

"If I get elected, it will be the people who will put me there and I should do what they want."