A seat in Texas House District 46 will soon be up for grabs, and the list of candidates vying for the chance to replace outgoing State Rep. Dawnna Dukes is growing.
Dukes, a Democrat, won her re-election in November but is retiring Jan. 10—the start of the 85th legislative session—after 22 years in office. In September, Dukes cited health issues as the reason for her retirement.
Texas House District 46 represents parts of the cities of Austin, Manor and Pflugerville.
Two Democrats—former Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and longtime workers’ rights advocate Jose “Chito” Vela—have already declared they plan to run for Dukes’ seat.
Cole—who served on Austin City Council for nine years and now owns a law firm specializing in government relations, public finance and mediation—is slated to hold a discussion on her campaign for the house seat Dec. 14. The discussion will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the George Washington Carver Museum at 1165 Angelina St, Austin.
On Nov. 30, Vela called on Dukes to immediately resign rather than wait until Jan. 10. He said if she waits until then, the seat will likely not be filled until March or later if there is a runoff election.
“If Rep. Dukes waits until Jan. 10 to resign, families in East Austin, Manor and Pflugerville would go without any representation in the Texas House for most of the legislative session,” he said.
Gov. Greg Abbott cannot call a special election for Dukes’ seat until she refuses to be sworn in Jan. 10, according to the Travis County Clerk’s Office.
Those wishing to run for office cannot officially file for candidacy with the county judge’s office until the governor calls for a special election. The Travis County Clerk’s office must conduct the election 21 to 45 days after the special election is called.
Adam Reposa, a longtime trial lawyer and owner of Fire & Ice Pizza Bar, said last week he also planned to run for House District 46.
“Sadly, for many years District 46 has been neglected by the political establishment of the Texas Legislature,” he said in a news release announcing his candidacy.
Reposa, who markets himself as “The Bad Ass Lawyer” on his website, said he wants to focus on criminal justice reform, marijuana legalization and tax reform for small businesses.
“For too long, politicians have owned their place but have not earned their place,” he said. “The reign of hollow promises and lack of results is over.”
Multiple news sources have reported Vincent Harding, chairman of the Travis County Democratic Party, has said he is considering running. Community Impact Newspaper has reached out to his campaign manager for comment.
On the Republican side, Gabriel Nila said he plans to run against the Democratic candidates in the special election. He also called for Dukes to resign immediately rather than wait until Jan. 10.
Nila lost the election in November, receiving 10,175 votes, or 19.18 percent of the votes.
Libertarian Kevin Ludlow and Green Party candidate Adam Michael Greeley, who both ran unsuccessfully against Dukes in November, could not be reached on whether they plan to run in a special election.