District 1

Peter Svarzbein

Current Term: 2nd | Term Ends: December 2022

Thank you for affording me the privilege to serve as your public servant on the City of El Paso Council. I am honored to represent District 1. I look forward to teaming up with you to improve our neighborhoods, build a better future for our children, and accomplish great things for our City.

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City Representative Peter Svarzbein
City of El Paso
300 N. Campbell
El Paso, Texas 79901

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Like many El Pasoans, my family’s journey here began far away in a foreign land. My father, Leonardo, immigrated to the United States from Argentina in the 1970s to study medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, where he went on to become a successful spinal and neurosurgeon. My mother, Sylvia, the daughter of a Czechoslovakian Holocaust survivor and a Roman Catholic Spaniard who joined the French Resistance against Nazi occupation, is also an immigrant, who sought a better life in the United States from France. My parents met at the hospital where they both worked; dad performed surgeries and mom had risen through the ranks to become the head operating room nurse. When it came time to start a family, my parents searched for someplace safe, warm, and where a bilingual, multicultural community thrived. My dad chose El Paso because the friendly residents reminded him of home. They arrived in El Paso in 1978, and I was born two years later. My brother Jonny was born two years after me, and he currently lives in Los Angeles where he is a comedy writer and improv comedian. I attended El Paso Hebrew Day School as a child and graduated from El Paso Country Day High School. I earned a degree in English from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania before earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photo and Video from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

I support responsible growth and will work tirelessly to have the city work with the community to develop parks, amenities, and other development projects that are responsive and forward-looking in their ambition and design. We should strive to protect our open spaces while developing our inner first and second ring suburbs to be open and adaptable to the future. I promise to be an advocate of the future; the quicker we can implement the 2012 Quality of Life bonds, the bigger bang we can have for our hard-earned money. We must implement the streetcar project and work to encourage its success in civic pride and redevelopment Although my priority is District 1, I will work for the betterment of the entire city and region, and work with each and every city representative to advocate and collaborate on projects that help the city move forward as a whole. A large part of my profession is good communication and the ability to get people to look at things in a different way. Part of what makes an artist’s work is to not be complacent about how things are, but rather, imagine them as they could be.

After graduate school, I decided to come back home to El Paso to see how far an idea could affect reality and make a difference in my hometown. And that idea and difference are becoming a reality. I led efforts to bring back El Paso’s historic streetcar and the symbol that it means to the region. The idea began as an art project but quickly became a public works project as it evolved. I helped advocate which led to securing $97 million in state funds for the project, funds that otherwise would have gone to another Texas city. Once realized, the project will not only physically connect our downtown with the university area, but it will also reconnect our past to our future emotionally, encouraging civic pride and greater civic engagement. I also wanted to help define the visual character of the emerging Union Plaza Arts district. To that end, La Mansion, a collaborative, site-specific art project was designed to revitalize a historic and unused building in downtown El Paso. The project brings creative energy to the long discussion of how to use our dilapidated buildings. In addition, I served on the San Jacinto Plaza Citizen Committee, where I worked with Nestor Valencia, the city’s former Director of Planning who served our community for more than 33 years. I have been a professor at New Mexico State University and a faculty member at the Texas Tech College of Architecture in downtown El Paso. I currently serve on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso and the El Paso Artist Guild. I am also the curator and co-creator of the Purple Gallery, a rotating showcase of some of the best and most unique art and artists from the El Paso/Juarez border region. I am also a board member on the international board of Sister Cities International, a non-profit founded by President Eisenhower dedicated to pursuing “peace through people” through citizen diplomacy and cultural and economic exchange.