The newest face in the Texas House will be former San Antonio City Councilmember Diego Bernal, after he won District 123 in a special run-off election Tuesday night. Bernal will replace outgoing Rep. Mike Villarreal.
Democrat Bernal had 64 percent of the vote over Republican Nunzio Previtera, and should be comfortable with being the face of the district he represented on the San Antonio City Council. While how and when the transition to the Capitol will take place is not set in stone, he’s got a plan for once he’s in.
“Day one is figuring out what role we can play in the filing and supporting of legislation and also take a look at what’s out there; [matters] that we probably need to prevent from getting passed, because it would bad for our district and the state,” said Bernal.
Some of the legislation he would fight to prevent being passed would include any discrimination based on religious beliefs, or proposals that aim to take away local control. “If a city wants to pass a no fracking bill, or a plastic bag ban, or an NDO [Non-discrimination ordinance] or anything else of that nature, they should be allowed to do that. There’s a lot of legislation that’s being proposed to eliminate the rights for cities to do that,” Bernal added.
He also said he would support bills that would crack down on payday lenders.
The seat became vacant after Villarreal announced his candidacy for San Antonio Mayor. Villarreal, meanwhile, said he would like to see Bernal continue the effort to improve education. “I would hope that Diego goes up to Austin to continue the fight for our children, and fight for a high quality education in all neighborhoods.”
Bernal said he did not know when he would be seated but added that he was anxious to get to work. “Right now the area is unrepresented, so for the sake of the district, the sooner the better.”