Joe A. Guerra

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Jose Antonio Guerra, Sr.
File:Joe A. Guerra of Laredo, TX.jpg
Member of the Laredo City Council
Webb County, Texas, USA
In office
District 4 1970 – 1982
Preceded byE.F. Pena
Succeeded byDavid R. Cortez
In office
District 6 1994 – 2002
Preceded byEduardo Perales
Succeeded byGene Belmares
Personal details
Born(1934-07-09)July 9, 1934
Laredo, Texas
DiedSeptember 15, 2010(2010-09-15) (aged 76)
Laredo, Texas
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Josefina "Josie" Flores Guerra (married 1961-2010, his death)
ChildrenJoe A. Guerra, Jr.

Rebecca G. Doyle
Dr. Maya G. Zuniga
Alfonso Gerardo Guerra
Alfredo Tomas Guerra
Carlos Luis Guerra
Monica G. Jones
Maria Eugenia Guerra

Eleven grandchildren
Alma materMartin High School
St. Mary's University

Jose Antonio Guerra, Sr. (July 9, 1934 – September 15, 2010), known as Joe A. Guerra, was a businessman and a Republican political activist in the heavily Democratic city of Laredo, Texas. He served for twenty nonconsecutive years from two districts on the Laredo City Council,[1] during which time he worked for the extension of Del Mar Boulevard to the interstate Loop 20, named for former Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock.


Guerra was born in Laredo to Jose Margarito Guerra (1904–2001) and the former Josefina Valls (1913–1998).[2] Guerra attended Roman Catholic elementary schools and graduated in 1953 from Martin High School. In 1957, he graduated from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a minor in business.[3] He then joined the family enterprises, Laredo Motor Mart and Laredo Auto Parts. In 1972, Guerra opened a longstanding Exxon station (replaced by a convenience store in 2001) at the busy intersection of San Dario, the Interstate 35 service road, and Del Mar Boulevard. Thereafter, he began a second self-service station at the intersection of Guadalupe and Meadow in The Heights section of Laredo which he still managed at the time of his death.[4]

Political career[edit]

In 1964, Guerra joined the Republican Party. In 1978, he was the Webb County chairman of the Bill Clements gubernatorial campaign, when the Republican nominee, the first of his party to be elected governor since 1869, defeated the Democrat John Luke Hill, the former Texas Attorney General, for the state's top constitutional office. He supported George Herbert Walker Bush for U.S. President in 1988 and 1992. Guerra later worked to elect George W. Bush as governor of Texas and U.S. President. He also campaigned for the former Republican U.S. representative from U.S. House District 23, Henry Bonilla of San Antonio,[3] who served as the Laredo-area representative from 1993–2007, having never carried Webb County a single time in seven elections.[5]

Guerra's city council service spanned two types of municipal government in Laredo. Effective with the 1982 elections, when Guerra did not seek reelection, the city changed from mayor-council government to the city manager format. He joined the council in 1970 from the downtown District 4 and served twelve consecutive years. His last two terms were in the Del Mar District 6 from 1994-2002.[6] In his last term he was the dean of the council and the mayor pro tempore. He served on a city/county government consolidation plan, but the two entities have remained separate and not been merged.[3]

Despite his visibility as a Laredo Republican, Guerra was never elected to the city council as a Republican because under Texas law all municipal offices are nonpartisan. However, in 2002, several months after he had left the council, he ran as a Republican for the partisan office of county treasurer to succeed the late Billy Hall, a former state representative, but he was handily defeated in the general election by the Democratic nominee, Delia Perales,[7] who still holds the position. In 2000, Guerra led the Pledge of Allegiance at a session of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which nominated the Bush-Cheney ticket. On October 5, 2000, Guerra was honored for his dedication to public service on the floor of the United States House of Representatives by then Representative Henry Bonilla.[4] Guerra's convention role was highlighted the next day in a front-page photograph in the Laredo Morning Times.[8]

His city council service corresponded with the tenure of each of four consecutive Laredo mayors, J. C. "Pepe" Martin, Jr., Aldo Tatangelo, Saul N. Ramirez, Jr., and Betty Flores. The interstate loop, on which Flores and Guerra worked together, was finished while Guerra was still a council member.[9] Guerra was also a key supporter of Mayor Tatangelo's massive street-paving project, which began on an experimental basis in the San Ignacio neighborhood at Tatangelo's personal expense during the last Martin administration. Prior to the Tatangelo program, most of Laredo's streets were unpaved.[3][10]

Personal life[edit]

On December 27, 1961, Guerra married Rebeca Josefina "Josie" Flores (August 27, 1938 – April 30, 2013), who later became an active figure in the pro-life movement. They had eight children: Joe A.Guerra, Jr., Rebecca G. Doyle, Dr. Maya G. Zuniga, Alfonso Gerardo Guerra, Alfredo Tomas Guerra, Carlos Luis Guerra, Monica G. Jones, and Maria Eugenia "Eugie" Guerra. Guerra had eleven grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.[4] Guerra was a eucharistic minister and lector at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church and his mother church, St. Peter the Apostle.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

Guerra died suddenly in Laredo of a heart attack[1] at the age of seventy-six. He was cremated.[4]

On July 22, 2016, nearly six years after Guerra's passing, the City of Laredo named in Guerra's honor the main public library at McPherson and Calton roads. Council member Roque Vela, who first proposed that the structure be named for Guerra, described Guerra as "someone I looked up to for his unwavering commitment to public service. I am especially proud to know that the library and reading were passions of Mr. Guerra."[11]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 "Former City Councilman and local businessman Joe Guerra passes away, September 15, 2010". Retrieved September 18, 2010.
  2. "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved September 17, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Henry Bonilla, "In Honor of Mr. Joe A. Guerra", Congressional Record, October 5, 2000
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Joe A. Guerra obituary, Laredo Morning Times, September 17, 2010, p. 11A
  5. Texas Secretary of State, Texas congressional election returns, 1992-2004
  6. Confirmed by the Laredo city secretary
  7. Laredo Morning Times, November 6, 2002, p. 1
  8. Odie Arambula, "The Exxon Joe Guerra," Laredo Morning Times, September 20, 2010, p. 4A
  9. Zach Lindsey, "Ex-City Councilman Joe Guerra, 76, dies," Laredo Morning Times, September 16, 2010, pp. 1, 11A
  10. Bill Moyers, "You Can Beat City Hall:, CBS Reports, April 1978
  11. Judith Rayo (July 22, 2016). "Laredo Public Library renamed after former city councilman". The Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
Preceded by
E. F. Pena
Member of the Laredo City Council (District 4)

Jose Antonio "Joe" Guerra, Sr.

Succeeded by
David R. Cortez
Preceded by
Eduardo Perales
Member of the Laredo City Council (District 6)

Jose Antonio "Joe" Guerra, Sr.

Succeeded by
Gene Belmares

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