Louis H. Bruni

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Louis Henry Bruni
County Judge of Webb County, Texas
In office
January 1, 2003 – December 31, 2006
Preceded by Mercurio Martinez
Succeeded by Danny Valdez
Constituency Laredo, Rio Bravo, El Cenizo, Auilares, Botines, Bruni, Callaghan, Darwin, Islitas, La Presa, Laredo Ranchettes, Larga Vista, Las Tiendas, Los Ojuelos, Mirando City, Oilton, Pescadito, Ranchitos Las Lomas, Santo Tomás, and Webb
In office
1994–2002
Personal details
Born (1949-07-09) July 9, 1949 (age 65)
Laredo, Webb County, Texas
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Not available
Relations J. C. Martin (uncle)
Children Frederick Martin Bruni, II

Allison Anne Bruni[1]

Parents Frederick Martin and Anita Gonzalez Bruni
Residence Laredo, Texas
Alma mater J. W. Nixon High School

Laredo Junior College
University of Texas at Austin

Occupation Businessman; Rancher

Louis Henry Bruni (born July 9, 1949) is a businessman, rancher, politician, and the scion of a pioneer family in his native Laredo, Texas. From 2003 to 2006, he was the elected administrative County Judge of Webb County in South Texas.


Background[edit]

Bruni is one of six children of a Roman Catholic couple, Frederick Martin Bruni, I, and Anita Gonzalez Bruni, who died in 2002 at the age of ninety. His siblings are the late Frederick Martin Bruni, Jr., and Joanne (Dr. Robert K.) Maddox, Mary Patricia Bruni, Raymond Anthony (Alicia G.) Bruni, and Alice (Stephen A.) Whitworth. The senior Brunis lived at Rancho San Josè del Barrocito in Webb County.[2]

He attended J. W. Nixon High School, Laredo Community College, when it was known as Laredo Junior College, and the University of Texas at Austin. In 1980, he launched a career in the oil business with specialization in oilfield construction. He established the companies, Las Minas, Inc., Southern Oilfield Security, Inc., and Bruni Energy, Inc.[1]


Political life[edit]

Bruni set forth to dismantle two institutions linked with his family: (1) the entrenched political machine of former Laredo Mayor J. C. "Pepe" Martin, Bruni's uncle, and (2) the Independent Club, an unofficial gathering of South Texas power brokers, sometimes called "patróns", of which Martin and Bruni’s father were original members.[3] Bruni described the phenomenon as "like some bizarre novela, isn’t it? A real family feud."[4] Bruni quarreled with his cousin, J. C. Martin, III, and his brother-in-law, Steve Whitworth, the owners of Unitec Industrial Park who filed a multimillion-dollar defamation suit against Bruni and the City of Laredo. Whitworth told the publication Texas Monthly: "The real irony is that Louis wants to be the next patrón. He'll be worse than anything we’ve seen in this valley." [4]

In 1994, Bruni was elected to the District 2 seat on the eight-member Laredo City Council. In 1998, he won reelection by only sixty-five votes over Mercurio Martinez, III, (born c. 1962), the son of the man, Mercurio Martinez, Jr., that he would unseat four years later in the race for county judge. "This victory is for the people I represent. I'm happy I still represent everyone, even the ones that didn't vote for me. My doors are open for everyone," Bruni said in claiming victory.[5]

On the council, Bruni formed a temporary governing majority with several other members, including Alfonso I. "Poncho" Casso (born c. 1957), who lost a race for mayor in 1998, and Joe A. Guerra, a Republican political activist and staunch constitutionalist though the council positions in all of Texas are nominally nonpartisan. Guerra said of Bruni and Casso: "They’re no angels. But they’re a breath of fresh air—something this city really needed." [4]

Bruni never missed a council meeting during his tenure on the body.[1] He worked with the council to secure more than $2 million for storm water management in the Heights section of Laredo, an area that had been previously subject to periodic flooding. He worked to secure the continued operation of the then four municipal swimming pools, since expanded in number, and to build a new police station across from the former airport location and a library at McPherson Road and Calton. He was the chair of the council's Jet Service Committee which sought to enhance airline service to Laredo.[1]

Bruni left the city council to run in the Democratic primary for County Judge held in March 2002. He unseated the three-term incumbent, Mercurio Martinez, Jr., before and since an elected trustee of Laredo Community College. Bruni cut the rate of growth in county government and devised a comprehensive program to improve the quality of county roads. Bruni placed a well that produces more than six hundred gallons of water a minute[1] from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which extends from Louisiana to Mexico[6] and is the alternative to the Rio Grande River for a city water source. While on the city council, Bruni spearheaded cloud-seeding efforts in Laredo through the Southwest Texas Rain Enchancement Association. This effort began when Webb County was amid a ten-year drought. Bruni worked to make the Webb County Indigent Health Care program solvent. He worked to establish the Webb County Hospital District with its own taxing power. The district procures federal funding for health care providers serving those without financial means.[1]

As judge, Bruni submitted four consecutive balanced budgets to the commissioners court. During his tenure there were no county tax increases, but county government gained additional revenues from higher assessments on property as determined by the Webb County Appraisal District. Standard & Poors rated the credit rating of Webb County as "A+." He also worked for funding of the Juvenile Justice Alternate Education Program to help reduce the persistent problem of juvenile crime.[1]

Judge Bruni supported the Cuatro Vientos Road Interchange at Interstate 35 Loop 20 and Texas State Highway 359, a project which opened in 2013[7]He worke for construction of the interchange at Loop 20 and U.S. Route 83 and for the construction of a railroad link at the Colombia – Solidarity International Bridge. He worked to reduce the number of rail crossings within the city of Laredo, a previous point of considerable complaint. He prodded the Federal Aviation Administration to secure funding for insulation to lessen noise pollution, particularly in his former Council District 2.[1]

Governor Rick Perry appointed Bruni to the Small Business Coalition Commission, which meets in Austin.[1]

Four consecutive defeats[edit]

In March 2006, Bruni was unseated as county judge by a long-term justice of the peace, Danny Valdez. Two other candidates also ran in the Democratic primary, county commissioner Judith Garza Gutierrez (born c. 1943) and businessman Carlos Ygnacio Benavides, III (born c. 1961), a former candidate for the Texas House of Representatives against Richard Raymond. Valdez sailed to victory with 37 percent of the vote in the initial primary and 62 percent in the runoff against Benavides. Bruni ran fourth in the primary, having failed to garner a runoff berth. The defeat was not an aberration but the first of repeated failure at the polls. The Texas Observer, an Austin-based political magazine with a liberal viewpoint, attributed Valdez's win to his humble background, his grassroots campaigning, and his image as an honest, decent citizen.[8]

Some eighteen months later, Bruni briefly switched to Republican affiliation and lost a 2008 race for the District 21 seat in the Texas State Senate to the popular incumbent Democrat Judith Zaffirini, also of Laredo. In the Senate campaign, Bruni stressed property tax relief, health care, education, the environment, and prison/jail reform.[9]

In the general election held on November 4, 2008, Zaffirini carried all seventeen counties in the district to defeat Bruni, 129,608 votes (68.2 percent) to 55,363 (29.1 percent). Another 4,966 ballots (2.6 percent) were cast for Libertarian Barry L. Allison (born 1948) of San Antonio.[10]

In 2004, Zaffirini had easily defeated Bruni's older brother, Raymond (born 1948), in the Democratic primary. In announcing his candidacy, Louis Bruni said that he thought the historically Democratic district could be ripe for a partisan turnover.[11] Bruni also confirmed that his opposition to Zaffirini stemmed partly from a legal dispute that he had with his brother prior to Raymond Bruni's campaign against the senator.[12]

Bruni quickly returned to the Democratic Party to re-establish his party contacts and to challenge Valdez for a second term as county judge on March 2, 2010. Two others also ran for county judge, former professional baseball player turned businessman and rancher Tano Tijerina and former 406th District Court Judge Andres Reyes (born c. 1959), the first to hold that most recently established state court judgeship in Webb and Zapata counties. Valdez narrowly prevailed in a runoff with Tano Tijerina, who returned to claim the seat from Valdez in 2014. Judith Gutierrez, meanwhile, failed in both 2010 and 2014 to return to her Precinct 2 county commissioner seat. The incumbent Rosaura Palacios "Wawi" Tijerina, an aunt-by-marriage of Tano Tijerina, who had remained neutral in the first Valdez-Tano Tijerina contest for county judge in 2010, won renomination, the equivalent to reelection in Webb County.[13]

In 2012, Bruni failed -- his fourth defeat in six years -- in a bid to win the Precinct 1 county commissioner's seat. He lost to Democrat Frank J. Sciaraffa (born c. 1971), whom he had previously supported, and also to the primary winner, Mike Montemayor (born c. 1977), who just in his second year in the position accepted a temporary suspension from the seat pending the disposition of multiple criminal indictments against him.[14]Bruni, and Sciaraffa too, were among twenty-four persons who applied to succeed Montemayor on a temporary basis.[15] District Judge David Peeples[16]in May 2014, appointed a Laredo educator, Linda Ramirez (born c. 1975) of United South High School and a graduate of Texas A&M International University, as Montemayor's interim replacement.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Judge Louis H. Bruni". louishbruni.com. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Anita Gonzalez Bruni, February 1, 2014". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Independent Club". The Handbook of Texas. Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Michael Dileo, Familia Feud: The conservatives who have taken over Laredo’s city council are hardly right-wing—but then, everything’s relative on the border., December 1996". Texas Monthly. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Rick Pauza, Flores tops field without runoff; Bruni is re-elected in hot race over Martinez". Laredo Morning Times, May 3, 1998. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer". twdb.state.tx.us. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Cuatros Vientos Interchange officially opens: TxDOT: One more phase to be completed, October 1, 2013". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Nice Guy Finishes First, June 30, 2006". The Texas Observer. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Bruni announces bid for state Senate seat, July 17, 2007". Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  10. ^ "General election returns, November 4, 2008: Texas Senate: District 21". Texas Secretary of State. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  11. ^ Aguilar, Julian (2007-12-28). "Bruni becomes Republican in a bid to unseat Zaffirini". Laredo Morning Times. p. 1A, 13A. 
  12. ^ Cortez, Tricia (2008-01-10). "Zaffirini foe quits". Laredo Morning Times. pp. 1, 12A. 
  13. ^ Laredo Morning Times, April 14, 2010
  14. ^ "Webb County Commissioner Mike Montemayor: More Accusations: New claims linked to bribery charges, [say] prosecutors", Laredo Morning Times, April 27, 2014, pp. 1, 9A
  15. ^ "Commissioner Precinct 1 applications, April 23, 2014". KGNS-TV. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Temporary suspension: Montemayor to step aside once appointee named," Laredo Morning Times, April 11, 2014, pp. 1, 16A
  17. ^ "Judge picks teacher: Linda Ramirez named temp. Pct.1 commissioner, Laredo Morning Times, May 3, 2014, p. 1
Preceded by
Mercurio Martinez
County Judge of Webb County (based in Laredo, Texas)

Louis Henry Bruni
2003–2006

Succeeded by
Danny Valdez