Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday named a longtime San Antonio business leader and community activist as the first Hispanic female to serve as Texas' secretary of state.
Esperanza "Hope" Andrade will return to state service after a six-week hiatus. In May, she stepped down from the Texas Transportation Commission, where she had served since 2003 and was the acting chairwoman for the final four months of her term.
"I am looking forward to my new role in promoting the commerce of Texas and a prosperous working relationship with our neighbor, Mexico," Andrade said. "As the chief elections officer of Texas, I will strive to protect the integrity of elections as part of our democratic process — a process that Texans value and respect."
Andrade replaces Phil Wilson, who served for about a year and resigned from the $125,000 post to take a job in the private sector.
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In Texas, the secretary of state oversees elections statewide and serves as the governor's liaison on border and Mexican affairs, and is the state's' chief protocol officer for both state and international matters. The office also serves as the formal repository for official and business records, publishes government rules and regulations, keeps the state seal and attests to the governor's signature on official documents.
"Hope's dedicated public service and business savvy have made her an indispensable asset to the state of Texas," Perry said. "I look forward to working with her to continue to make Texas the greatest and most prosperous state in the nation."
The appointment won praise from a Democratic lawmaker from Andrade's hometown.
"She is a good friend that I have known for almost 20 years, a person of the utmost integrity," said state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. "Gov. Perry hit it out the ballpark on this appointment."
Andrade attended Our Lady of the Lake University, the University of the Incarnate Word and the University of Texas at San Antonio Entrepreneurship Program. She received the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hope for Children Esperanza Award, San Antonio Leadership Hall of Fame Award, and the Republican National Committee's Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award.
She was also named Woman of the Year by the Houston Chapter of the Women's Transportation Seminar and Small Business Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration.
John Moritz reports from the Star-Telegram's Austin bureau, 512-476-4294.