Editorial note: This is the first in a series of interviews we will attempt to have with both every Statewide candidate in a Democratic or Republican primary, as well as every candidate in a Harris County Democratic or Republican primary. Unlike our municipal questionnaire, these questions will differ substantially from one candidate to another, given the diverse nature of the offices up for grabs.
Rita Lucido, Democratic Candidate for the Texas Senate District 17
State Senate District 17 is an odd-shaped district. It zigzags out to the coast, well into deep-red and conservative areas, while at the same time protruding into inner-Houston. Since 2008, it has been represented by Joan Huffman, a Republican who hails from Houston and was formerly a District Judge. Senator Huffman has sometimes been reasonable, but she recently went off the deep end this past legislative session. Demonstrating a cruel and aloof persona, Senator Huffman railed on and on against common-sense, bipartisan criminal justice reforms meant to keep innocent people out of jail –and, more important, away from the needle. The comments and actions earned her a spot on both Texpatriate’s List of Worst Senators, as well as Texas Monthly’s.
However, as poor as Senator Huffman’s performance was, we were surprised to see a formidable opponent come forward. Democrats did not even both to contest the seat in both 2010 and 2012, despite coming very close to victory in 2008. Rita Lucido, the only Democrat who filed for this race, has shown she is ready to mark out her own turf and run a competitive campaign. In her interview, she notes her longstanding commitment to Planned Parenthood and deep opposition to HB2, the omnibus anti-abortion bill. She also declares her support for gay marriage. Needless to say, the race for State Senate District 17 will be worth watching.
–Noah M. Horwitz contributed analysis
Sophia Arena: What is your name?
Rita Lucido: Rita Lucido
SA: What position are you running for?
RL: State Senate District 17 [as a Democrat]
SA: What is your occupation?
SA: You mention “education, infrastructure and transportation” on your website. How do you plan to address each of these goals?
RL: Texans need leaders who plan for the future. I plan to listen to my constituents and work with my legislative colleagues to restore education funding, make healthcare more accessible, and create a 21st century transportation system. These issues are critical to the prosperity of all Texans and our leaders have to do a better job addressing them.
SA: Senator Huffman has been somewhat outspoken on the issue of Criminal Justice recently. What are your thoughts on this?
RL: Criminal Justice is one of many issues Texans are concerned about. When elected I look forward to working on issues like Criminal Justice with Senate colleagues like Sen. Whitmire.
SA: You were formerly a board member of
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. Do you plan on making HB2 and other abortion rights related issues out as points in this campaign?
RL: I see HB2 for what it is. HB2 is an attack on women’s healthcare and the doctor/patient relationship. I want our legislature to focus on making healthcare more accessible and affordable for all Texans.
SA: Senate District 17 is oddly shaped and is somewhat geographically diverse. As a Houstonian, how do you plan on interacting with non-Houston parts of the District?
RL: Texas needs leaders who plan for the future. I am going to seek out residents in all areas of Senate District 17 to talk to them about health care, education, and transportation. These are issues voters care about, whether they live in Houston or other parts of the district.
SA: What is your position on same-sex marriage?
RL: As a family law attorney for 30 years I have seen first hand what makes families work. I know that committed, loving couples make the best parents. I support marriage equality because I believe in stronger families and stronger communities.