Rep. Ruben Gallego speaks on his path to becoming a lawmaker

Rep. Ruben Gallego represents Arizona's 7th Congressional District. Here is his story.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 1:22 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re highlighting Latino Arizonans trailing their path in our community, our city, and a great State 48. Good Morning Arizona anchor Olivia Fierro caught up with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) to speak about his impact.

“When I met my first Latino lawyer... [I said] ‘wait, we make those?’ But that was a very inspirational moment for me, made me think, ‘why couldn’t I be a lawyer someday,’” said Gallego.

It was that revelation that helped fuel a seed of possibility into an even brighter future for the U.S. Representative who serves Arizona’s Seventh Congressional District, when he was elected in 2014.

“If I were to ask your son, who you say is five and a half, ‘what does daddy do for work?’ What would he say?” Fierro asked Gallego.

“For a couple of years when people would ask him, he’d say dad speaks for a living. Now he knows I pass laws. He’s great! He comes to D.C. a lot, too,” he said. “The best thing is that we get to spend time together when you grow up without a father figure, you know, how important it is to be a father to your son.”

His life today illustrates the change possible in one generation: from a son of immigrants raised by a single mom to a Harvard graduate and U.S. Marine.

“I realized at a young age I had to step up. The best way to step up is to be a really good student and show that there was a future for us,” he explained. “We weren’t going to be poor for the rest of our lives. I got it into my head that I’m smart, I work hard, and in this country that matters.”

Gallego succeeded. He proved that as a working-class Latino, he could create a new future; one that would always require hunger and humility that often set him apart at Harvard.

“I was a janitor, I cleaned other students’ bathrooms. I was a bouncer,” he joked.

“When students were planning spring breaks to Costa Rica or Europe, I went to work. Eventually, I understood that my self-worth had nothing to do with my bank account. My self-worth was what I was doing to better myself, to better my family, to better my country. But it wasn’t easy. I really did feel like an outsider.”

His place, for now, is in the U.S. House of Representatives, continuing his commitment to serve his constituents and to be a voice for fellow Latinos and military veterans.

“What a veteran wants and what a Latino wants is a successful life, a stable family, a future. The American Dream,” Gallegos said. “When I’m in Congress, I try to focus on trying to bring that to them; to create the opportunity to execute on that.”

Ultimately, he says, “in the hardest of times, even when I was in war, I looked at the most important thing: determination. Keep going. You’ll survive this.”