When Peter’s grandparents immigrated to the United States from Japan, they could never have imagined all of the good he would accomplish. His grandparents were humble farmers when they left Japan. His maternal grandparents immigrated to South Texas where they became one of the earliest Japanese in the Rio Grande Valley and are featured in our Institute of Texan Cultures. His father’s family immigrated to join the farming community in the Imperial Valley in California. They were honest and hardworking citizens.
Peter’s dad, Pete, a high school student in California during the outbreak of World War II, and the entire family were victims of Executive Order 9066 - the Japanese Internment Camps. He often told Peter about his experiences growing up and going to high school in these camps. So many people wrongly lost their property, their businesses, and their homes because of this abhorrent violation of their civil rights. The stories Pete told Peter have compelled him to defend the Constitution and the Rule of Law –so, that no one else would have to go through what his family, and so many other Asian Americans, had to endure. Driven by his family and his passion for justice, Peter graduated from the prestigious University of Texas in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree and the University of Texas School of Law in 1979.
True to his character, Peter used his new law degree to serve others. Starting as an Appellate Assistant D.A. in the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office where he quickly became a rising legal star. In 1983, opened his successful solo law practice. In 1995, he was unanimously appointed by the civil court judges as the Associate Judge of the Children's Court, where he created revolutionary new programs that protected children and put struggling families back together. Under Judge Sakai’s leadership, adoptions in Bexar County of foster children increased 1000%. Encouraged by his colleagues at the courthouse, community leaders and long-time supporters, he ran for the 225th State District Court and pulled off a resounding victory. In the General Election, he prevailed again and became Judge of that bench. During his judicial career, Judge Sakai has implemented several cost-saving protocols, innovative programs, and brought together key stakeholders to find viable solutions to countless program. The Family Drug Court, Early Childhood Court and the College Bound Docket are all proven examples of his visionary leadership. All the programs and initiatives have empowered parents and improved the justice system, becoming a nationally recognized and awarded models across the United States.
But despite the accolades, no one succeeds by themselves. Peter’s family has always encouraged and supported him to innovate and find bold solutions where others could not. His wife, Raquel “Rachel” Sakai is a true public servant in her own right. She was an educator, counselor, and administrator in Harlandale ISD for 32 years. After serving as the Director of the Gateway to College at Palo Alto College and working as a teacher/sponsor at Providence Catholic School, she retired. Now, Rachel dedicates her time to family and her work on numerous boards, nonprofits, and charities. For her unselfish service, Rachel was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame, a 2022 recipient for Volunteerism. Together, Peter and Rachel have two kids, George, and Elizabeth. They are also blessed to have two wonderful grandchildren, Jackson, and Grayson.
Last year, Peter stepped down from his bench to STEP UP to run for County Judge. He is running to work collaboratively with the Commissioners Court, civic leaders and stakeholders to improve our struggling economy and business sector, bring our justice system back up to speed, and improve the health, wellness and safety of our residents across the county as well as focus on neglected infrastructure needs such as housing, internet accessibility and transportation to mention a few. Judge Sakai is eager to continue his public service and prepared to take on this new challenge.
Since starting his career of service in Bexar County back in the 80s. Judge Sakai has not slowed down a bit. His out of the box thinking and consensus building have made him one of the most effective and respected problem solvers and leaders in Bexar County. He continues to be a man known for his integrity, hard work and ethics that Bexar County knows and trusts. And that is why he is poised to be our next Bexar County Judge.
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