Mendez tapped for network; NewDEAL think tank recognizes rising leaders

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May 7—Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez is among 19 state and local Democratic officials selected to join a NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a progressive, pro-growth network of leaders from across the nation.

Mendez was the only Texas nominee to be tapped as part of the spring 2021 "class," though the group's nearly 200 members include the mayors of three of Texas' largest cities, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, who Mendez described as colleagues and mentors. NewDEAL also features distinguished alumni such as former U.S. Rep. Stacey Abrams, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who now serves as U. S. Secretary of Transportation under the Biden Administration. (Booker and Buttigieg were also 2020 presidential candidates).

"You've got some people that have really made a difference over the last several years, and people who are going to continue to make a difference in this group," Mendez said.

Mendez said he feels honored and humbled to even be considered for membership in the progressive think tank, and that it only intensifies the spotlight on Brownsville. The organization was launched in 2011 and caps its membership to 200 at any given time. Mendez said he's met with his fellow NewDEALers a few times already, calling them a "good group of progressive, innovative leaders."

"To have these conversations and to be able to share ideas and thoughts to me is something that's going to make me a better leader, and something that's going to continue to put our city in the forefront of the national conversation," he said.

NewDEAL said the network's members are "working to enact pro-growth, progressive solutions in a diverse array of communities," and that its leaders are chosen for their "unwavering commitment to expanding opportunity." Mendez and his fellow members will build on the work of NewDEAL alumni in areas such as of education, climate change, affordable housing, child care, broadband access, entrepreneurship, mass transit and the social safety net, said the organization.

Mendez said NewDEAL was keenly interested in what's going on in Brownsville in terms of "new space" and improving broadband access to residents.

"They're particularly interested in seeing all the progress we've made in taking ourselves off the least-connected list and the strides we've made in that over the last year and a half," he said. "And now that we're kind of starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on eliminating the digital divide, that's going to be a huge deal for our city. To make it happen is a top priority for me certainly."

sclark@brownsvilleherald.com

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