Senator Gregory Luna
Senator Gregory Luna was elected to his first term in the Texas Senate in 1992. He served on the Senate standing committees on Education, State Affairs and Jurisprudence. Senator Luna served on the Conference Committee on SB 7 dealing with education finance and the Select Committee on Judicial Reform. In that session, the border initiative, created in response to a MALDEF courtroom victory, created the long-sought downtown campus for the University of Texas at San Antonio. He considered the campus the culmination of his vision for UTSA.
In his last session, Senator Luna served as the vice-chair of Education and vice-chairman of Veterans Affairs and Military Installations Committees. During the 75th Legislature in 1997, Senator Luna chaired the Senate Hispanic Caucus, led the opposition to private school vouchers paid for with public tax money, and served on the conference committee on HB 4 dealing with school property taxation. In 1995, Senator Luna served on the conference committee on SB1 where he influenced the new education code.
Senator Luna received an award from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities for outstanding leadership and support for Hispanic serving institutions through legislative initiatives, the Lifetime Achievement Award from UTSA Hispanic Research Center, the 1987 Mexican-American Bar Association (MABA) award for outstanding legal contributions, the 1991 MABA Outstanding Legislator Award and the 1998 ERNIE Award from the Avenida Guadalupe Association. In 2004 he received the Henry B. Gonzalez award from the St. Mary’s Hispanic Alumni Association and the Champion of Civil Rights award from AARP and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
During his four terms in the Texas House of Representatives, Senator Luna focused on education and school finance. He served on the Public Education Committee as vice-chair and held appointments to the Select Joint Committee on Education, the Joint Committee on High School Dropouts, and the conference committee on SB 351, the 1991 public school finance bill. He also served on the House committees on Judicial Affairs, Human Services and on the General Investigating Committee. The Texas State Teachers Association gave him its 1992 Friend of Education Award. He also received the TSTA Alamo District 1991 Award and the Association of Texas Professional Educators 1991 Recognition Award. In 1992 he received an award from AVANCE for his commitment to families. In July 1999, the Texas Federation of Teachers honored him with its rarely bestowed Child Advocate Award.
Senator Luna was a leader in many activities in San Antonio. He was one of the founders of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and served four terms as board chair. In recognition of his work on school finance legislation, MALDEF honored him with its national premier Valerie Kantor award for extraordinary service and the regional Community Services Award both in 1991. In September 1999 MALDEF honored him with its Matt Garcia Public Service Award for his “outstanding leadership and service to the community.” The recipient of this award reflects an extraordinary dedication to the civil and human rights of all people.” He served as chair of the Inman Christian Center Board of Directors, on the project SER National Board of Directors, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Board of Directors, United Way Board of Directors, as a member of the Westside Lion’s Club and the State and Bexar County Democratic Executive Committee.
Senator Luna began his career with his enlistment in the U.S. Army in 1953 after attending San Antonio College. He then joined the San Antonio Police Department and while employed as a police officer completed his education at Trinity University obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Math and St. Mary’s University of Law by attending night school. During his employment as a police officer Senator Luna was chosen for a federal job to train police officers in Venezuela. Senator Luna began his law career as a San Antonio City Prosecutor and then started private practice in 1968, officing at the International Building in downtown San Antonio.
In 1958 he bought his first poll tax to vote. He began his involvement in politics campaigning for Pete Torres in his run for City Councilman in 1967. He ran for a Justice of the Peace office in 1969 and for State Representative in the Texas House in 1982 and lost both times. He ran for the same State Representative seat two years later and won. He remained in the House of Representatives until 1992 when he became State Senator.
Senator Luna was born in New Braunfels, Texas, the youngest of his father’s seventeen children. His father, Eliseo Luna, having widowed early was remarried to Elvira Sanchez. Eliseo Luna was an itinerant merchant and passed away when the Senator was seven months of age at which time the family relocated to San Antonio. Senator Luna’s family was particularly proud to display the five stars in their window indicating five sons that were in the military during World War II. Senator Luna attended J.T. Brackenridge Elementary School, Lanier Junior High School and graduated from Lanier High School. He married Helen Garcia August 21, 1955 and had four children, Leticia Ann, Delores, Gerard and Gregory Val. All of his children attended school in the Northside Independent School District and all graduated from Oliver Wendell Holmes High School. Leticia received degrees from St. Mary’s University and University of Denver Law School, Delores received her degree from the University of Houston, Gerard received degrees from Austin College and School of Naturopathic Medicine and Gregory Val received degrees from Austin College and Texas Tech School of Law. The Senator’s grandchildren include granddaughter Ariana Luna the daughter of Gerard Luna and Suzi Stern, step-grandson Rene Pinnell, son of Suzi Stern, and Sara Luna Ellis and Sophia Ellis, the daughters of Delores Luna Ellis and her husband Greg Ellis.