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Roll Call New Member Profiles: 113th Congress
Pronounced: FEE-lay-mon VAY-la
Election: Defeated Jessica Puente-Bradshaw, R
Born: Feb. 13, 1963; Harlingen, Texas
Religion: Roman Catholic
Family: Wife, Rose Vela
Education: Loyola U. New Orleans, attended 1981-82; Georgetown U., B.A. 1985 (government); U. of Texas, J.D. 1987
Political highlights: Candidate for Corpus Christi City Council, 1993
Filemon Vela, D-Texas (34th District)
While Vela has never previously held political office, he has been surrounded by politics all his life.
His mother, Blanca Sanchez Vela, was mayor of Brownsville, and his late father, Filemon Vela Sr., served on the Brownsville City Commission and as a U.S. District judge (nominated by President Jimmy Carter).
Velaís wife, Rose, is a justice on Texasí 13th Court of Appeals, an elected position. She was formerly a Democrat but now serves as a Republican. After winning his primary in late July, Vela told the Dallas Morning News, "Iíve lived with her for 22 years. If I can get along with her, I can get along with them."
He also has ties to a pair of Republicans currently representing Texas in the House, relationships that he says will help him forge compromises. Vela went to law school with Rep. Pete Olson, and heís known and had a friendly relationship with Rep. Blake Farenthold for two decades. "Washington could learn a thing or two from South Texas - here, we work together to solve our problems," he says in campaign material.
When he announced his intention to run for Congress, Vela told The Monitor, a Rio Grande Valley newspaper, that his priorities would be ensuring that Americans approaching their senior years receive the Social Security and Medicare benefits they were promised, promoting jobs in law enforcement to protect South Texans from border violence, and supporting energy industry workers.
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