Editorial note: This is the twenty-first in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Leticia Van de Putte, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor
T: What is your name?
LV: Leticia Van de Putte
T: What office are you seeking?
LV: Texas Lieutenant Governor
T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
1991-1999 Texas House of Representatives, District 115
1999-Present Texas State Senate, Senate District 26
2011-Present Families USA
2009-Present The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse Advisory Commission
2009-Present The National Assessment Governing Board
2009-Present Milbank Memorial Fund, Member
2008-Present American Legacy Foundation Board, Member
2004-2005 NALEO Board Committee
2008 Co-Chair, Democratic National Convention Committee
2007-Present State Affairs Committee – Texas Senate
2003-Present Chair, Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee – Texas Senate
2003-2010 Chair, Texas Senate Democratic Caucus
2001-2003 Chair, Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus
1998 Chair, Mexican American Legislative Caucus
1991-1996 Secretary, Mexican American Legislative Caucus
2003-Present Member, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL)
2003-2005 President, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL)
1991-Present Member, National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
2007-2008 President, National Conference of State Legislators Foundation
2006-2007 President, NCSL
T: What is your political party?
T: What would you recommend about the so-called “2/3rds rule”?
LV: Texas has always been a state where we work together to solve challenges. In Texas, we should not pit people against one another – we are a state where we always look for common ground, and neighbor helps neighbor. What we don’t need in Texas is the partisan gridlock that has infected Washington, D.C..
The two-thirds rule has served the Senate well. It fosters civility and collegiality. The Texas Senate is the deliberative body, the two-thirds rule preserves that legacy.
As Lieutenant Governor, I would advocate to maintain the two-thirds rule. While the discussion on the rule is usually framed as Republican vs. Democrat, there are many issues where the true division is between urban members and rural members, or those representing areas with plentiful water and those without. It is important to preserve the two-thirds rule so that Senators seek to find common ground and the voice of the minority is respected.
T: What criteria would you use to appoint the Chairpersons of the Senate committees?
LV: I will appoint chairpersons based on the passion for and knowledge of the issues that the committee will work on during the legislative session regardless of political party. The legislative session is only 140 days. There is no time to waste so committees chairs need to be committed to leading their committees to improve the laws of this state.
T: What relationship do you think that the Lieutenant Governor should have with the Senate?
LV: One of mutual respect. I believe that leadership is a process that requires mutual respect so that the members of the Senate can work towards achieving common goals while maximizing their individual efforts. Texas is a geographically diverse state with diverse needs and beliefs. I believe Texas’ diversity should be embraced, not dictated.
T: What is one thing that you would continue over from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s administration? What is one thing you would not or change?
LV: I would continue the 2/3 rules and appointment of chairpersons regardless of political party. What I would change would be starting on time and working to improve the relationship between the House and Senate.
T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
LV: I have the experience and passion for the job. I have a record of working across party lines and chambers to pass effective legislation that makes Texas better.
My opponent seeks to bring Washington DC style tactics to the Senate. His “my way or the highway” mentality will only bring partisan gridlock to the chamber.
I made the decision to run for Texas Lieutenant Governor because I want a strong future for my children, grandchildren and everyone’s children and grandchildren. I will not stand aside and allow my opponent to leave my grandchildren any less of a Texas that I have come to love.
T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
LV: Education – Providing a high quality education to every student in this state has been and will continue to be of utmost importance to me. I believe it is of utmost importance to the economic prosperity of this state that we get students to and through school. The education we provide the young people of this state should prepare them to be workforce ready for locally and internationally available jobs in a competitive market.
I have filed school finance bills and bills that keeps college affordable, passed a law combating bullying in schools, passed a law that encourages the creation of dropout recovery high schools, and passed law to ensure children of Military Personnel and children adopted from the foster care system would be eligible to receive free prekindergarten classes.
Improved quality of life for veterans, servicemembers and their families – As the daughter of a veteran, I know that it takes a family to serve and that to truly honor those who protect us, we must improve the quality of life for military members, veterans, and their families and support our military bases.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations, I wrote the law that allows Texas veterans and their families to qualify for expedited licenses within one year of separation, created the Hazlewood Legacy Act which allows veterans to pass their unused education benefits to their children or spouse, and led the successful fight for the 100% property tax exemption for Gold Star Spouses of active-duty service members killed in combat.
Combating Human Trafficking – For the past 10 years I have led the fight against the vile crime of human trafficking, modern-day slavery, in the Texas Senate.
I passed the law that required hotline postings along Texas highways, created the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force and in 2011 I passed Senate Bill 24, which increased the penalties for traffickers and provided protections for victims.