Immigrant candidates among those seeking election in Harris County

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At a gathering of African American pastors on the first day of early primary voting in Texas, you'll find plenty of politicians seeking support. Among them was Democrat Lina Hidalgo, an American by choice and not birth.

Seeking the office of Harris County Judge, Hidalgo, a Harvard University graduate from Colombia, says a community fueled by the energy of immigrants should no longer be deaf to their voices.

"There's a problem when we are 40 percent Hispanic," said Hidalgo. "We are 25 percent immigrant. We are just over 50 percent woman and we don't have a voice at that table making those powerful decisions."

Hidalgo is referring to the mostly white, all-male Harris County Commissioners Court.

"It's time for someone who looks like the people of Harris County, who reflects the politics of Harris County to represent the voters of this County," added Hidalgo.

Also in the U.S. by choice and not birth, District 29 Congressional candidate Tahir Javed.

"Forget about underserved," said Javed. "It's way underserved. We have just one hospital which is fully performing and everything else is pretty much shut down."

The Pakistani immigrant turned successful health care entrepreneur hopes to replace outgoing Democrat Gene Green by pledging to fill a stubborn and troubling education gap on Houston's predominantly Hispanic east side.

"41 percent drop out, high school drop outs and only nine percent is going to the colleges and only 2 percent are finishing the professional degrees," said Javed. "This is Houston, Texas, for God's sake, we are not talking some third world country! We need to fix that."

Javed faces State Senator Sylvia Garcia and five others in the District 29 Democratic primary.

Hidalgo is looking forward to a head-to-head battle of ideas with Republican County Judge Ed Emmett during the fall election.