Democratic challenger for Texas governor, Lupe Valdez, grew up in one of the poorest areas of San Antonio.
Valdez, 70, says she remembers being turned away at a Dallas County restaurant because the staff wouldn’t serve Mexican-Americans.
“You had to stare at your parents and go, ‘Why can’t we eat here,’” she said. “Parents have to choose how they explain things to you.”
Valdez received degrees from Southern Nazarene University and the University of Texas at Arlington. She has served as a captain in the U.S National Guard and worked for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“There’s a teamwork in the military that I wish we could package more on the outside,” she said. “Every job depends on somebody else and you’ve got to be able to work together to make it happen.”
In 2004, Valdez ran for Dallas County sheriff, a race which no Democrat had won in decades. She served as the Dallas County sheriff for 12 years.
“At that time, being lesbian was not as easy as it is now. Although, it’s never easy,” she said. “I remember several people saying to me, ‘You know that’s the first thing that’s going to come out. They’re going to smear you up and down with this.’”
Her campaign says she is the first openly LGBTQ and Latina major party candidate for Texas governor and in the country.
Valdez says she won the Democratic nomination in the same place that turned her family away as a child.
“I was elected the sheriff of the same town that turned us away,” she said.
Her top priorities are health care and education, including universal pre-K. She also supports a minimum wage between $12 and $15.