Longtime incumbent Rep. Dawnna Dukes fighting field of contenders for HD 46

Jahnavi Muppaneni - AUSTIN (KXAN) -- Eleven-term State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has a field of contenders who want her seat.

There are five Democratic candidates trying to unseat her in the Texas Primary  Election on March 6. Dukes has served Texas House District 46, the area covers east Austin, since 1995.

Last September Dukes announced she was resigning but then changed her mind right before the 85th Legislative Session. A runoff election will be held on May 22 if no Democrat claims a majority of the votes to see who will face the sole Republican contender, Gabriel Nila, in the general election held Nov 6.

Get to know the District 46 candidates on both sides:


Dawnna Dukes

Dawnna Dukes is a third-generation native of District 46 and has served the Texas House of Representatives in the roles of Chair of the Special Issues Committee on Appropriations, Vice Chair of the Committee on Ethics and Vice-Chair of the Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee, to name a few. In her term, she fought to improve education, increase public safety and influenced health and human services policy. She was involved in several controversies including low attendance, missing funds, felony charges and political corruption investigations.

Ana Cortez

Ana Cortez is a former migrant farm worker and small business owner who was elected to the Manor Independent School District Board of Trustees in 2015. During her tenure, she focused on improving college attainment, creating Manor ISD's Career and Technical Center and diversifying success for all students. Cortez created her own healthcare consulting firm in 2004 and serves as a member of the Texas Association of School Boards and Mexican American School Board Association. Her platform is centered on removing toll roads, proper education funding, increasing access to healthcare and supporting sexual assault victims.

Jose "Chito" Vela

Jose "Chito" Vela is an immigration attorney, workers' rights advocate and a former city of Austin planning commissioner. He served as general counsel for a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives and was an Assistant Attorney General in the Open Records Division of the Texas Attorney General's Office. His mission revolves around criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, school finance reform, health insurance, reproductive justice, protecting the environment and improving transportation.

Sheryl Cole

Sheryl Cole is an accountant and attorney who became Austin's Mayor Pro Tem and the first African American woman elected to city council. In city council, she placed affordable housing on the ballot to address affordability issues and lessen the economic and racial divides.

Cole got her start in public life by stepping up in her local PTA and serving as one of the Tri-Chairs to the AISD Bond Committee in 2004. She advocates for public school funding, affordable and accessible healthcare, LGBT rights, supporting immigrants, helping incarcerated people reintegrate back to society and victims of police violence.

Warren Baker

Warren Baker is a business owner with several ventures in District 46 who partnered with local businesses to give incarcerated people a second chance. He believes that students deserve above minimum standard higher education and that the government should make the transition from early childhood easier. Baker supports better mixed-income housing, diversified business ventures and developments, creating jobs, lowering crime rates, access to good healthcare and protecting the natural environment.

Casey L. McKinney

Casey McKinney is a native Texan, community activist, businesswomen and veteran. Her career experience includes working as an oil and gas lobbyist after serving in the U.S. Air Force. McKinney studied biology and nursing at the University of Maryland. She spent 20 years in the Democratic Party fighting for progressive populist change, liberal change, working-class families and believes the government should take collective action.


Gabriel Nila

Gabriel Nila is a science and technology teacher at an alternative education campus. He ran against Rep. Dukes in the 2016 general election. His career experience includes being a community activist and leader. Nila's key issues are ending the school to prison pipeline, gentrification, restoring integrity, decriminalizing marijuana and helping small businesses.

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