By Hays County Historical Commission
In celebration of National Hispanic American Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, the Hays County Historical Commission-His- panic Heritage Committee has chosen to recognize the achievements and contributions of The American GI Forum. The American GI Forum was established in San Marcos in 1948.
While the GI Forum did not directly involve itself in partisan politics, it was very involved in community affairs and registering Hispanics to register to vote. One of the obstacles facing the community was the existence of the poll tax which forced people to pay $1.75 for the right to register to vote. The GI Forum came up with a creative strategy that was highly effective. They sponsored dances at the Woodmen of the World Hall and Cuauhtémoc Hall. Admission was $1.75 and all proceed were used to pay the poll tax and register Hispanics to vote. The GI Forum succeeded in registering hundreds of new voters.
Among the first Hispanic American individuals elect- ed to public office in HAYS County were all members of the American GI Forum:
• Ruben Ruiz – City Council (1961) Mayor Pro- Tern (1962) County Commissioner (1974)
• Celestino Mendez- School Board 1963- 1969
• Augustin Lucio Jr.-
School Board 1964-1991
• Eleazar Salinas- School Board 1966-1969
• Petro Rodriquez- School Board 1974, County Com- missioner 1992-1996
• Luciano Flores – City Council (1968) Mayor (1972)
• Robert Cavazos – City Council 1976) Mayor (1979)
• Jerry Flores – School Board- 1972
• Nick Lara- School Board- 1972
• Jesse Saucedo – Constable (1980)
The late Ruben Ruiz, First Hispanic elected to the San Marcos City Council in 1961 and First Hispanic elected to the Hays County Commissioners Court served as Texas State Chair- man for the American GI Forum from 1966-1968.
Many more GI Forum members followed in serving. The American GI Forum Ladies Auxiliary also succeeded and won several seats on city council, school board and county offices.