Aaron Pena speaks out about not seeking re-election

After five terms in office, State Representative Aaron Pena has decided not to seek re-election.

State Rep. Pena told Action 4 News his decision was bittersweet.

He said the newly drawn maps affected his decision, but he also had to choose between paying for his children's college tuition or funding his campaign.

Pena said a campaign for state representative can cost up to one million dollars|something he just can't afford right now.

"My children who were very small when I started are now ready to enter college, he said. I've got to pay for that."

He said even with a law office, it's hard to keep up financially.

"It is always a struggle, he said. In fact, one of my children who is older asked me for help to go to school, and I couldn't help him, and so that semester he just had to stay out."

That's why Pena said it TMs time to stay home and help his wife with the financial burden.

"I have been away for ten years sometimes for 10 months at a time," said Pena.

Pena has also had an uphill battle with his constituents since he changed parties late last year.

"I went to a place where people really invited me to come over, and I felt very good about my change and don't regret it at all," he said.

Another backlash happened when redistricting maps dramatically changed district 41 pushing Incumbent Democratic State Representative Veronica Gonzales out and moved Pena, a republican in.

"This was a conscious effort of the republican party to disfranchise her constituents," said Eli Olivares, Stonewall Democrats President.

This year, the San Antonio federal court ruled for district 41 to go back the way it was.

Pena said he had hoped to win the re-election as a republican in the Rio Grande Valley.

"I had hoped to prove in this election that I could do that, but they took the map out from under me, he said.

Considering the factors, he said it's time to step aside.

Pena has one more year in office, and after that he said he looks forward to spending time with family and catching up on his reading.

Pena said he hasn TMt thrown out the possibility of running for another office down the road.