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Rick Noriega was born Richard Joe Noriega in Houston, Texas in 1958. He first attended Allen Community College and worked for the Texas State Board of Insurance before he joined the Army Reserves in 1979. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from the University of Houston in 1984 and a master's degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1990. He also studied at the University of Guadalajara and served as president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 402 in Houston. He was hired as a lobbyist for Houston Industries Incorporated in 1993 and moved to their economic development department when in 1998 he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives where he has served five terms. At the time of the interview, he was one of several Democratic Party affiliates in absentia from the Texas Special Legislative Session over redistricting. In 2008, he unsuccessfully opposed incumbent John Cornyn in an election race for the United States Senate. In 2009, he had attained the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Texas Army National Guard.
Rick Noriega begins with his family's background and tells about his childhood in Houston, Texas. He discusses the race discrimination he experienced in school, recounts the family moving to a different Houston neighborhood which resulted in his attending a predominently African American junior high prior to his parents sending him to Catholic school. He recalls his parents' attitude toward education and elaborates on his work and college choices. He details the start up of a bilingual newspaper, 'La Presna de Houston' (The Houston Press) with Hilbert Ocanas, and his involvement with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 402 and the Mexican American Democrats in the Houston and Harris County area. He describes the period in his life when he attended college full-time working on his undergraduate degree while still working full-time at the Texas State Board of Insurance. He cites his experience with race discrimination at the Board of Insurance and the legal action he pursued there, and declares his motiviation for attending the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He mentions teaching high school and junior college classes and volunteering for the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project prior to running unsuccessfully for the Texas House of Representatives in 1992. He speaks about his campaign support for John Whitmire and working on Whitmire's staff, as well as working as a lobbyist for Houston Industries Incorporated (later CenterPoint Energy). He talks about his reasons for running for state representative in 1998 and discloses his campaign finances. He refers to various legislative issues he has supported in the Texas House of Representatives and explains the Texas Special Legislative Session walkout in 2003 by Democratic Party affiliates. He mentions such prominent Mexican American politicians as Ben T. Reyes, Diana Flores, Diana Dávila, Sylvia García, Pete Gallego, and Paul Moreno, and comments on Texas Attorney General John Cornyn and Texas legislator Ken Armbrister.
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