Candace Valenzuela is a mother, an educator, and a lifelong Texan. She overcame incredible odds growing up, and she has since devoted her life to fighting for opportunities for others. She first ran for her local school board to improve Texas schools, becoming the first Latina and first African-American woman to serve on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. Now she’s running for Congress to stand up for all Texas children and their families.
The daughter of U.S. Army veterans, Candace was born and raised in El Paso, Texas into a family with generations of military service. Her great-grandfather came to the United States from Mexico, eventually fighting in World War I. And her grandfather fought in World War II. She often says that her father once jumped out of airplanes for a living, while her mother fixed them.
After her mother left the military, her family struggled financially and, for a time, they were homeless. Despite these challenges, Candace persevered and excelled, becoming her high school’s First Distinguished Graduate. She then graduated from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, on a full scholarship, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. Grateful for these opportunities she could not have afforded on her own, Candace knew that she wanted to give back. She pursued work in education, including mentoring youth, tutoring, and working with special-needs students. But the moment that inspired her to enter public service was when she became a mother.
Determined to fight for access to education, Candace became involved in local politics and ran for office for the first time in 2017, when she was elected to the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District board as an at-large representative, defeating an 18-year incumbent. Since joining the board, she has been an advocate for greater fiscal transparency and worked to expand STEM education, vocational training, and coding academies in district schools. She has also pushed for funding for school renovations and focused on making sure the district is inclusive and welcoming to students of all backgrounds.
Now, Candace is running to represent Texas’s 24th Congressional District and advocate for all hardworking families. She knows, intimately, the impact when a family can’t afford a place to live or food to eat. She has struggled to afford costly medical bills due to a pre-existing condition. Candace believes we cannot address these issues if our leaders are more focused on appeasing donors and corporate PACs than representing their constituents.
Candace and her husband, Andy, live in Dallas and are the proud parents of two children: Cleto, born in 2015, and Jacinto, born in 2018.