RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – In March Incumbent Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. nearly avoided a runoff, winning nearly 50 percent of the vote. Lucio’s second place challenger, Sara Stapleton-Barrera won 35 percent of the vote, and now finds herself in a July runoff.
We spoke with both candidates ahead of the start of early voting.
Senator Lucio is a Brownsville native, father, grandfather, educator, serving 34 years as a legislator, 30 in the Senate. Lucio says he fights for the creation of opportunities and for the advancement of the Hispanic population, running for the future of the region.
“I’m very competent. People should vote for me because I have a verifiable track record. I have a track record where people can see it in writing in black and white. I don’t have to tell people I’m going to do this or do that,” says Senator Eddie Lucio Jr.
Stapleton-Barrera also a Valley native, mother of three, former educator, and constitutional attorney. She says as an attorney for the past 10 years, she has seen how laws both good and bad effect people and families.
“I’ve got fresh new innovative ideas for so long for the past 30 years we have been so stagnant, so we need these fresh ideas to really move forward,” says Sara Stapleton-Barrera
We also asked both candidates about COVID-19 and the current situation in the region and state.
Lucio says he has led efforts advocating to Governor Abbott, and other state leaders. His efforts have brought resources and funding for testing, student meals, PPE, and nurses to the region. Lucio also says he supports local efforts by County Judges for increased local authority.
“I’m thankful that the governor and other leaders heard my plea and provided the help and assistance originally requested however much more needs to be done,” says Senator Lucio
While Stapleton-Barrera blames legislators for the spike in positive COVID-19 cases.
“I think that our governor acted too little too late and unfortunately our state leaders did not take the initiative and really guide us where we needed to be. So, we were all left sort of afraid without direction, and without a clear picture of what our future is going to look like,” says Stapleton-Barrera
We also asked candidates to discuss their thoughts on George Floyd and how the nation has responded.
“There is an entire overhaul that needs to be done in the criminal justice system. I’m proud to see all of our brothers and sisters uniting together exercising their first amendment rights and really standing up for a good cause,” says Stapleton-Barrera
Lucio says he wept for Floyd and his family and is reminded of oppression he faced growing up. Lucio points to his legislative actions when he co-authored the Sandra Bland Bill in 2017, and his continued fight for social economic advancement for minorities.
“The progress is yet to be achieved for racial and ethnic minorities, and in order to provide justice for all, we must not only reckon with our nations past we must also do more,” says Senator Lucio
Both candidates made their final case for voters.
“I’m extremely accessible. Call me, reach out to me. I’m here to help you, so the more interaction that I can have between myself and my community is really what I’m looking for, and really what I need to do to be the best person that I can be to help the Valley,” says Stapleton Barrera
“I’m now number 3 in sonority out of 31, that gives me the power. Power is not a bad thing unless you abuse it or misuse power, but the worse thing about power is to ignore it when you have it to make a difference for people a positive difference,” says Senator Lucio
Early voting will continue through July 10th, with election day on July 14th.