BioOver the past 40 years, Raúl has built an exceptional record of public service within his district, earning him a solid base of enthusiastic supporters. Raúl began his public career as a community organizer when he joined with other advocates at El Rio Community Health Center to encourage local governments to invest in older and minority neighborhoods. He helped organize neighborhood empowerment efforts that prompted the City of Tucson to expand services to the south and west sides, including the construction of neighborhood service centers such as El Rio, El Pueblo and Fred Archer in order to serve older minority areas of Tucson. He directed the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center from 1975 to 1986.
From 1974 to 1986, Raúl served on the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, serving as chairman during his last three years on the board. Raúl was the first Latino elected to TUSD in more than 100 years. During his tenure at TUSD, he worked with the courts, Superintendent, and educators on a desegregation plan and was the lead Board member in implementing the integration plan. He was a hands-on board member who worked to increase funding and support for public education, and who advocated on behalf of teacher, employee and civil rights. Upon his retirement, an elementary school was named after Raúl in order to honor his service and contributions to education in TUSD.
Raúl continued his service to the community when he was elected to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, where he served from 1989 to 2002. While on the Board of Supervisors, he managed a $1 billion budget and ensured that the county was at the forefront of issues such as domestic partner benefits, labor rights, and transparent government. Additionally, he was a staunch advocate for balanced planning and fairness in land-use decisions. His leadership led to the creation of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, an innovative approach to species and habitat protection in concert with land-use planning in the community. As a Supervisor, Raúl also continued his advocacy for working families through passage of a bond package that contained a $10 million commitment to reinvest in older, poorer neighborhoods and to fund a county housing trust.
Since his election to Congress in 2002, education, job creation, employee rights and the environment have been among Raúl’s top policy concerns.
As a member of the Committee on Education and The Workforce, Congressman Grijalva will be making the reform and full funding of No Child Left Behind his top educational priority for the 112th Congress. His previous work on the Committee helped to fund early childhood and preschool programs within our nation’s consistently underfunded education system. He has successfully worked to improve funding to Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and to enhance outreach and services to Limited English Proficient children and their families. He also has worked to improve the quality of life for working families by promoting minimum wage increases, supporting legislation to prevent intimidation, and pushing to help employees organize and represent themselves in the workplace.
Raúl is also a member of the Committee on Natural Resources, where he has been appointed Ranking Member of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee. The Subcommittee oversees 600 million acres of federal land. As Chairman of the Subcommittee in the 111th Congress, Raúl played the leading role in creating a permanent National Landscape Conservation System within the Department of the Interior and fought successfully to address the maintenance funding shortfall of American public lands. As Ranking Member, his main priorities will be to protect wilderness areas and endangered species, advance the National Parks Service Centennial Initiative, protect the Grand Canyon from the threat of expanded uranium mining, advance ecological restoration on federal lands, and address the need for a budget fix for wildland fire suppression funding. He will also work with the full committee to pursue overdue reforms of the General Mining Law of 1872, new wilderness protections around the West, effective oversight of oil and gas drilling, and improved operations throughout our national parks, forests and public lands systems.
As Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), Raúl has championed affordable health care for every American and has pushed for job creation measures that focus on improving America's infrastructure and economic base. He has announced his support in the 112th Congress for the Fairness in Taxation Act, which would create new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires who currently enjoy generous loopholes that prevent them from contributing a proportionate amount to our economic recovery. He is a co-sponsor of the Fair Employment Act of 2011 to outlaw discrimination against the unemployed in hiring decisions, and wrote an op-ed in mid-March to explain his reasons.
Raúl has shown his commitment to a clean environment through his leadership in several key Congressional caucuses, including his ongoing service as Co-Chair of the CPC, Co-Chair of the National Landscape Conservation System Caucus, and his membership in the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. He is a supporter of the Green Scissors plan to cut $200 billion in government subsidies to industries such as coal, oil, gas and timber.
As a long-standing member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus -- where he chairs the Education Task Force -- Raúl has worked for comprehensive immigration reform, standing up to those who want to exploit fear, insecurities and hatred to distract voters from the need to resolve common sense policy objectives. He has pushed for adequate funding for English language learners and fair access to quality education for minority communities.