Earning the titles of wife, mother, entrepreneur, half-marathon runner, “karateka” (earning a red-belt), humanitarian, and political activist, Adrienne Peña Garza’s experiences and strong interpersonal skills have been instrumental in helping turn the tide in the Rio Grande Valley in the conservative direction.

Garza hasn’t always played an active role in the political arena. It wasn’t until 2009, when she was forced to confront a moral dilemma between her faith and her political views, that she felt compelled to be more than just a bystander.

Born in Weslaco, Garza grew up in Edinburg, Texas.

After graduating high school, she lived in many different cities around the state, yet kept finding herself returning to the place she truly calls “home,” the Valley.

Having spent most of her life in arguably the most democratic part of the state, Garza had little exposure to conservative views – until college.

While attending the University of Texas Pan American (UTPA), she encountered her first involvement with the Republican Party as her Christian values were tested.

“While in college, back in 2009, I used to identify as an Independent. I used to have both a Barack Obama and 96.9 (Christian radio station) sticker on my vehicle. Then someone left a note on my windshield that stated: ‘Dear Fellow Christian, your two bumper stickers conflict with each other.’ It left me perplexed for several weeks and forced me to educate myself in politics. I remember thinking, ‘what and where did I do wrong?’ Furthermore, after research on the spectrum, I found myself more right-leaning: in opposition that taxpayers should fund abortions, in disagreement that the state should allow abortions up to five months, and opposing socialistic views.”

It wasn’t until she took a political science course at UTPA that Garza finally felt confident in where she stood on the political spectrum. “One party believed in the sanctity of life and one didn’t. One believed in the Second Amendment and the other thought to infringe on those rights. I had finally found my voice, in the conservative movement,” Garza said.

In 2012, Garza was invited to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, where she left inspired and encouraged. “I left the convention a different person, eager to make positive changes in our area.”

Once described as “on the fence” about politics, Garza realized her efforts were needed by the Republican Party in the Rio Grande Valley.

Adrienne soon found herself entrenched in the political arena in the Texas Governor’s race between Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis. Adrienne states she was concerned for the future of the state as she strongly opposed Davis’s position on abortion. She recalls block-walking 13,000 houses for Abbott during the campaign.

“Although I lost several friends, I gained a level of self-awareness and self-respect with a firm belief that what I was doing was much bigger than myself,” she recalls.

She hopes her efforts will serve as an example to others to push forward in the conservative movement in the Rio Grande Valley and collaborate collectively in voting out corruption.

“I believe strongly we should encourage others to tell their story and be involved in the movement. I believe in the big tent party and in organizing, growing and providing mentorships. My passion derives from inviting people into the political process, and offering options that provide checks-and-balances. If there’s this one-party rule, we can’t hold them accountable. We need to bind together and focus on our commonalities, common goals, and winning!”

This is where Adrienne finds it her duty to represent the GOP and everything it stands for: growth, opportunity, and prosperity. She wishes to be a part of the change in the RGV, at least into a two-party system that allows for both sides to be heard, not just the Democratic stronghold it is now. She wishes to see others with a similar purpose succeed, and help them along the way.

Garza currently serves as President of the Hidalgo County Young Republicans, the National Committee Woman for the Texas Board of Texas Young Republican Federation, and is simultaneously running on the Young Republican Majority Slate as Auditor for the Young Republican National Federation Executive Board. She is also a devoted volunteer in various non-profits and enjoys running, yoga, traveling, and the arts on her downtime.

Adrienne and her husband, Aquiles “Jimmy” Garza II, have two teenage sons – Aquiles Jaime Garza III and Aron Christian Garza. With Adrienne’s passion for socially conservative issues and Jimmy’s knack for numbers and fiscal responsibility, together they have earned the reputation as the conservative power couple in the RGV.

Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Texas Scorecard. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.