I got a chance to meet Jay about 6 months ago at an El Paso Museum of History meeting and was excited to meet a fellow transplant from South Texas who had gotten involved in the community and is committed to seeing that El Paso has a bright future. With that said, Jay is running in the Republican Primary coming up for the District 78 rep in the Texas Legislature and I thought it would be a great opportunity to let others know what kind of El Pasoan Jay Kleberg is.
When and Why did you come to El Paso?
I came to El Paso in February 2004 for a job with Verde Realty, a private real estate investment firm with assets in Texas, New Mexico and Northern Mexico. El Paso has been a part of my family’s fabric for several generations. My grandfather was based in El Paso in the early 1950s while in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command. My father was aide to General Richard T. Cassidy, commanding general for Ft. Bliss, from 1969-71.
My experience at Verde gave me a true understanding of the building of new businesses and U.S. – Mexico border dynamics. I built a small warehousing and distribution business in El Paso and Southern New Mexico and also managed marketing, advertising and recruitment of Fortune 500 companies and their suppliers to the U.S. – Mexico border.
What is your favorite activity to do in El Paso?
I love doing anything outdoors with my family. My wife and I enjoy taking our two-year- old daughter and two Labradors on runs along the Rio Grande and competing in run and bike races all over town.
We take advantage of the mountain bike trails off Redd Road, the challenging hills of the Mountain Park area, and the hiking trails and rock climbing in the Franklin Mountains State Park.
You helped start the Chalk the Block festival, what motivated you to do get involved?
In order to retain and attract great talent to El Paso, we have to promote a vibrant culture that is rich in art and entertainment activities. I wanted to bring an outdoor downtown event to El Paso that would expose children to and involves them in the creation of art, supply positive energy to the downtown revitalization effort and provide regional artists with the opportunity to display their talents in public.
I believe that the festival will serve as a major economic driver as it grows. Chalk the Block is attractive and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and represents something that is unique to El Paso – something in which we may all take pride for years to come.
What currently is holding El Paso back from reaching its potential?
I have visited over a thousand households in Northeast, Northwest and West El Paso in the last two months. El Pasoans are telling me that in order to reach its full potential, the region requires leadership with a shared vision for El Paso’s future and leadership that is focused on providing a solid foundation for our students, motivation for young adults to remain in and move to the region and an environment that cultivates and attracts business.
What is your vision for El Paso?
El Paso is ahead of a population shift that is occurring in Texas and the rest of the nation. We have the opportunity to capitalize on our strengths: an economically-diverse region, geographic location at the epicenter of North America, a rich and diverse culture and innovative educational resources.
El Paso, with effective leadership, has the opportunity to lead the state and the nation as an engineering and manufacturing powerhouse, a model for innovative educational programs, Hispanic-focused health care and medical research and a model 21st century city.
When a person not from here asks you about El Paso, what do you say?
I say that El Paso is a land of opportunity. It is a region that thrives on inclusion and the idea that we achieve the most when we work together towards a common goal – making El Paso a great place to live and thrive for the young and old and for current and future generations.
I tell them that I have lived all over the world and have never lived in a place that is so welcoming to those willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work and is so ripe with opportunity. We have the only four year medical school on the border, a first-class university, the second largest military base in the U.S. Army, and are the third largest manufacturing center in North America.
Within our city limits we have a vibrant urban core with a river and pristine mountain range on either side, a rural agricultural community to the north and south and a vast desert surrounding us.
When I describe El Paso, I tell people about my diverse group of friends and why they have chosen to live in El Paso. I tell them about the 19 year old girl who is attending El Paso Community College’s nursing program and will stay in El Paso because of the educational opportunities at Texas Tech and job opportunities in the region.
I tell them about the 32-year old El Paso native and U.S. Army veteran who could have lived anywhere in the world but chose El Paso to start his career in the manufacturing business. I tell them about the 40-year old real estate professional who lives in El Paso so that his wife can pursue a graduate degree at UTEP.
I tell them about the 65-year old retired border patrol agent who loves El Paso because he can ride his motorcycle 365 days a year. I tell them that most of us have the opportunity to live in other cities and countries, but we choose to live in El Paso.
How are you living El Paso?
I have thrown myself into community service. Since arriving in El Paso, I engaged in community service, becoming a founding member of the Paso del Norte Group, the Borderland Mobility Coalition, and Chalk the Block. I also took leadership roles on several community boards that include the Community Scholars and El Paso Museum of History Foundation.
All of my community involvement has been focused on public-private partnerships that promote educational opportunity, improved mobility and quality of life – all critical to economic development in our region.
What district are you running for and what area does that encompass?
District 78. The District covers part of the Northeast, West El Paso, Anthony, Vinton and Canutillo.
If elected, what do you hope to accomplish?
I will reduce homeowner and small business taxes by decreasing the size of government and increasing organic and external business growth. I will prioritize funding for teachers, paraprofessionals, specialists and collaborative educational programs. I will fight to increase funding for UTEP and the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and fund the $1 billion El Paso Mobility Plan.
If anyone has questions they would like to ask Jay, post them in the comment box or e-mail them to me at livingelpaso [at] gmail.com and I wil forward them to him. Jay Kleberg’s Website
My name is David and I am living El Paso.