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TEXAS DEBATE: Beto O'Rourke bio and background

Beto O'Rourke is a lifelong El Pasoan. He attended Carlos Rivera and Mesita elementary schools and El Paso High School before graduating from Columbia University in 1995.
Full Name:Robert "Beto" O'Rourke
Hometown:El Paso
Education:B.S., Columbia University 1995
Spouse:Amy Sanders

Beto O'Rourke is a lifelong El Pasoan. He attended Carlos Rivera and Mesita elementary schools and El Paso High School before graduating from Columbia University in 1995.

He lives in Sunset Heights with his wife, Amy Sanders, and three children. Amy helped start and runs the La Fe Preparatory Institute in Segundo Barrio.

O'Rourke grew up in a family that was deeply involved in business and civic life in El Paso.

His mother Melissa O'Rourke worked for and owned Charlotte's Furniture, a business started by his grandmother in 1950. His father Pat O'Rourke was El Paso County Commissioner and then County Judge in the 1980s.

O'Rourke returned to El Paso to contribute to the community he loves. Along with a few friends, Beto started Stanton Street Technology in 1999. The successful internet services and software company has employed dozens of El Pasoans in high skill, high wage technology jobs over the last 12 years.

O'Rourke is committed to public service. He served on the El Paso City Council from 2005 to 2011. In that time, he played a key role in important initiatives, including:


The City's budget was balanced every year in office, and received a 'AA' rating from Fitch, who said that "The city continued its trend of strong financial performance in fiscal 2010, enabled by tenured and conservative financial management."


In 2005 the tax rate was .69 per $100/valuation. When Beto left office in 2011 the tax rate was .65 per $100/valuation - the City had better services and a lower tax rate.


O'Rourke helped focus the City's efforts on the Medical Center of the Americas, cross-border retail and trade, and complementing the growth of Ft. Bliss with investment in infrastructure and transportation.


O'Rourke led a city-wide initiative to focus investment and attention on downtown that has led to tens of millions of dollars invested, historic buildings renovated, and hundreds of new housing units - all adding significantly and helping grow the local property tax base.


O'Rourke has led the charge in investing in existing neighborhoods, including parks, sidewalks and streets, and has helped spur investment in new infill neighborhood development and building a more attractive city.


O'Rourke helped ensure that over $1 billion is invested in our transportation infrastructure, including mass transit, sidewalks, bike lanes and new highway construction, making El Paso more competitive.


O'Rourke led the charge on a complete turnaround of our mass transit system, from near meltdown in 2005 to " Outstanding Transit System of 2011" from the Association of Public Transit Agencies, a nearly unheard of turnaround from the worst in the nation to the best.


O'Rourke has made helping attract and retain talent to El Paso a priority, with a focus on parks, neighborhoods and events like the El Paso Marathon, CicloVia, Chalk the Block, Scenic Sundays, and others.


O'Rourke has been willing to stand up on the tough issues of the day, whether it's the violence in Juarez or the health benefits of City employees and retirees, to ensure that our community can move forward.

This story originally appeared on The Texas Tribune. CLICK HERE for a link to the original copy.

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