July 10, 1998
DALLAS - A lawyer elected as new president of the League of United Latin American Citizens said he wants to help expand what is already the nation's largest Hispanic political group.
Rick Dovalina, a partner in the law firm of Dovalina Eureste, defeated two other candidates for the top post at the close of the weeklong LULAC national convention.
``I will make visiting all LULAC councils around the country one of my priorities and when there is injustice against Hispanics, LULAC will be there at the forefront fighting for justice,'' Dovalina said Saturday.
Opponents Rosa Rosales, a labor organizer and the group's civil rights director for Texas, and Francisco Rodriguez, a travel broker from Houston, had loosely allied to oppose Dovalina, legal advisor of Houston Council 673.
Dovalina was the most closely aligned with outgoing president Belen Robles.
Dovalina's two opponents had questioned the more conservative direction LULAC has taken under the leadership of Robles.
The convention focused on key Hispanic issues: bilingual education, federal legislation concerning immigrants and economic opportunity.
Dovalina said LULAC must work both on national policy and at the local level to expand beyond its traditionally southwestern focus.
``We've got Hispanics in the Carolinas and Georgia - they're being treated with complete discrimination and complete disrespect,'' he said.
The LULAC presidential candidates spent Friday working the hospitality suites and hallways between work sessions.
During the convention, Democratic leaders Jesse Jackson and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri addressed delegates. The day before, Texas Gov. George W. Bush and House Speaker Newt Gingrich came calling with a Republican pitch to the country's oldest Hispanic political group.
The Republicans are ``the most anti-immigrant, the most anti-Hispanic party that has ever existed in the history of this country,'' House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt had said.