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WOW News

Gloria Tristani: A Puerto Rican Candidate For U.S. Senator

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

JULY 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.

Gloria Tristani talks about her run for Democrat U.S. senator just as she talks about her move to New Mexico in 1982 and her 15-year marriage to former Superior Court Judge Gerard Thomson. She said she never intended to become a politician, just as she never expected to meet her husband, or to stay away from her beloved Puerto Rico for as long as she has.

The granddaughter of the late U.S. Sen. Dennis Chavez (D-NM) and daughter of former Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company Administrator Jorge Tristani, Gloria would seem to have been born into leadership. And yet she claims never to have been consciously aware of that trait in herself, even though it has been evident to everyone around her.

"When I was very young, I would think about it. Eight years ago, when I decided to run for an elective post in New Mexico, my grade school classmates told me: 'we have been expecting it all along.' So it’s obvious that I had talked about it a lot. It just wasn't something I did consciously, but I guess it was always there," she said.

And it was there in deed. Gloria's innate leadership qualities drove her to become in 1994 the first woman elected to the New Mexico State Corporation Commission. In 1997, she was sworn in as commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and resigned in 2001 to run for U.S. senator for New Mexico.

A lawyer and a member of the New Mexico and Colorado Bar associations, Gloria has also received several awards for her performances as a public official and as a professional.

With her record, it would probably be hard not to wonder why she never chose her native Puerto Rico as a political arena.

"I’ve thought about going back to Puerto Rico. But I moved to New Mexico 20 years ago to get to know my mom’s home state, and I loved it. So now I am committed to New Mexico," she said.

Being a lifelong advocate of education rights, better health services for low-income families, and better quality of life, Gloria said she believes that if elected to Congress in November, she can still help island residents benefit from the so-called American Dream.

"The good news is that I am running for a federal seat, not only for the state of New Mexico. And if I succeed, as a U.S. senator, I could also help Puerto Rico. . .I am committed to helping all Hispanics and everyone who needs help to improve their quality of life," Gloria said.

The former FCC commissioner, who was in Puerto Rico this month for a short visit, declined to comment on the political status of the island.

However, she did express favor for Puerto Ricans’ right to self-determination as well as for the withdrawal of the U.S. Navy from Vieques.

Gloria–a mother, wife, and grandmother at 48–who always speaks proudly of her Puerto Rican, New Mexican, and Cuban heritage, didn’t want to end the interview without saying that even when she is not physically on the island, Puerto Rico is always in her heart.

"It won’t be from Puerto Rico, but for me, [if elected], I will also be a senator for Puerto Rico," Gloria concluded.

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