Montgomery County commissioner Tommy Vallejos on Friday was endorsed by Alberto Gonzales in his race for the state House seat currently occupied by retiring Rep. Joe Pitts (D-Clarksville).
A Republican, Vallejos is a pastor and board chairman for Latinos For Tennessee, a conservative political action group.
Gonzales served as U.S. attorney general under former President George W. Bush and currently is dean of the law school at Belmont University.
“Tommy’s story is a powerful reminder that redemption and reconciliation are entirely possible in America,” Gonzales said in a news release. “How else do you explain a rough street kid growing up to become a county commissioner, now serving his community with selflessness and passion?”
Vallejos grew up in New Mexico and was involved in gangs before joining the Army and cleaning up his life. As a pastor, he has helped steer young people away from gangs and find direction.
Gonzales said he has “seen firsthand Tommy’s passion to serve others and minister to the least of these in our community. He is a leader in every sense of the word, inspiring others to give back and bridging differences for the good of all.”
Earlier this year, Vallejos said he intended to run for the state Senate when state Sen. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) was nominated by President Trump to be Army secretary. But Green’s confirmation fell through after protests by liberals over his socially conservative views and criticisms of Islam.
Pitts, who has represented House District 67 since first being elected in 2006, announced in May that he would not seek re-election next year.
Jason Hodges, who like Vallejos is a Montgomery County commissioner, is also running for the seat. Hodges is a Democrat.
In an interview with The Tennessee Star Friday, Vallejos said he would focus on infrastructure, describing it as the top issue in the Clarksville area. Infrastructure needs were not addressed as industry and the population began to boom and now residents are dealing with clogged roads, he said. “We’re behind the curve.”
Vallejos said he would also focus on veterans, defending the Second Amendment, and school choice. He is in favor of both vouchers and charter schools. Vallejos also spoke of his Christian faith and how it is central to his life. He is pro-life and pro-traditional marriage and says he’s committed to helping those in need.
Vallejos earlier this year told The Star he’s against the recent gas tax hike, saying, “Let’s look at waste. Why tax the citizens of Tennessee again?” The state legislature raised the tax this past spring to fund road improvements.