(From left to right: Rep. Ana Hernandez, Rep. Carol Alvarado and Congresswoman-elect Sylvia Garcia)

As Reform Austin has previously reported, there is a special election scheduled for Tuesday, December 11th to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of State Senator Sylvia Garcia, who was elected to Congress on November 6th, 2018. The special election will fill the vacancy for the remainder of the four year state senate term, which ends in 2020.

The deadline to file to run as a candidate in the non-partisan special election is Friday, November 16th. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, there will be a runoff election held six weeks after the special election.

So far, two current state representatives, Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) and Ana Hernandez (D-Houston), have announced their candidacies. Both candidates have been running for several months, anticipating Garcia would win election to U.S. Congress. They have each released lists of supporters and have been actively raising funds to support their campaigns.

The two Democrats also have strong legislative records, especially when considered in the context of their having served in the minority conference during their tenure.

Hernandez’s legislative record and actions

Six-term Rep. Ana Hernandez was first elected in 2005 to represent District 143 in the Texas House of Representatives. The district encompasses parts of East Houston, Channelview, Galena Park and Jacinto City. Hernandez is a former Chief of Staff for a Texas State Representative, and a partner at Soto & Hernandez, L.L.P.

As a State Representative, Hernandez has served on numerous House Committees including the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee, Redistricting Committee, Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee, and the Human Services Committee.

During her Legislative tenure, Hernandez has authored 32 bills which were signed into law. These laws relate to the state’s criminal justice system, health care, higher education, voter rights and environment. Some of Hernandez’ most notable bills include HB 266, relating to a voter education program for high school seniors; HB 1466, relating to the coverage of cancer screenings for women under certain health benefit plans; and HB 557, relating to the establishment of an air pollutant watch list and associated reports under the Texas Clean Air Act.

Alvarado’s legislative record and actions

Rep. Carol Alvarado was first elected in 2008 to serve Texas’ 145th House District, which includes portions of Houston, Pasadena and South Houston. Before being elected as a State Representative, Alvarado served on the Houston City Council and as Mayor Pro Tem. Professionally, Alvarado works as the principal for Girasol Consulting LLC.

As a State Representative, Alvarado has served on numerous House Committees including the Land and Resource Management Committee, Redistricting Committee, Public Health Committee, Calendars Committee, Rules and Resolutions Committee, Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee, Higher Education Committee, the Special Purpose Districts Committee, and the Urban Affairs Committee. She was the co-chair of the Transparency in State Agency Operations and the Vice-Chair for Special Purpose Districts committees from 2013-2014. She is currently the chair of the Urban Affairs Committee.

During her Legislative tenure, Alvarado has helped authored 47 bills which were signed into law. These laws relate to the state’s housing, criminal justice system, health care, public education, voter rights, and economy. The most notable bills include HB 699, relating to requiring public institutions of higher education to establish a policy on campus sexual assault; HB 3327, allowing the Texas attorney general to award grants to teams that support survivors and those who are at high risk of domestic violence; and HB 617, requiring TEA to develop a transition and employment guide. It also requires districts to make that information easily available on their website. School districts must have at least one employee as a designee on transition and employment services for public education students in special education programs.

Who will voters select?

From their campaigns, it appears Hernandez and Alvarado have similar priorities if elected to the Texas Senate. Both Representatives want accessible health care, increased education funding, and good-paying jobs for Texans. Their track record on these and other areas of legislative policy are strong indicators on how they will conduct themselves if elected and strong guidance for voters seeking to make a decision on who to support in the special election. As of this writing, one other candidate, Republican Martha Fierro, has filed to run for the seat.