Meet Peter Svarzbein

Peter Svarzbein

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. My mom continues to work in El Paso in home healthcare, and my dad is currently in his 35th year serving the community as a doctor in his private practice.

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.

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 is 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 art 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 a creative energy to the long discussion of how to use our dilapidated buildings.

I have been an instructor at New Mexico State University and am currently 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 Pop-Up Gallery, a rotating showcase of some of the best and most unique art and artists from the El Paso/Juarez border region.

If elected to city council, I will be responsive and available to my constituents, no matter what issue arises. I want to conduct weekly meetings and circulate weekly newsletters to the community, as well as engage the community through social media and create new channels to better address constituents’ needs and concerns.

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. Our streets need updating and we can do it by taking advantage of the Street Infrastructure Capital Plan, which calls for $210 million in certificates of obligation for major repairs over the course of the next seven years.

Although my priority will be District 1, if elected, I will work for the betterment of the entire city, 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 effective 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. I am committed to El Paso and look forward to earning your vote.