Erin Shank will announce her candidacy Sunday for the Texas House District 56 seat that represents much of McLennan County, including most of Waco west of Interstate 35.
Waco bankruptcy attorney Erin Shank will announce her candidacy Sunday for the Texas House of Representatives seat Charles “Doc” Anderson will leave at the end of the term.
Shank will make her announcement Sunday on the 40th anniversary of her becoming a lawyer. This will be her second time to run for Texas House District 56 as a Democrat. She lost to Anderson in the last election. He will not seek reelection next year, after ten terms in the position.
Shank said two issues that loom large in her mind as motivators for a second run are a bill proposed in the Legislature’s last regular session that would revoke regulations on the dairy farms up the Bosque River from Waco, and border security.
“The Constitution makes border security a matter of federal jurisdiction, but I have been talking with state legislators and state senators about laws we can pass to improve things down there,” Shank said in a phone interview.
“We can work on the humanitarian problem and secure the border,” she said. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time. State reps can push the issue forward.”
People who come to the United States and claim asylum cannot legally work while their claims are processed.
“It can take 10 or 20 years to process their claims,” Shank said. “We have jobs and businesses that need them as workers. Farms, slaughterhouses and hotels need migrant workers.”
Another issue that looms large for Shank is a bill Anderson could not stop, one the Texas House passed to revoke regulations on dairy farms in Bosque County that had been linked to pollution in the North Bosque River, which flows into Lake Waco. Shank said Sen. Brian Birdwell slowed the measure down in the Senate and the bill ran out of time. But she said it will be introduced again in the next Legislature.
“The bill was likely filed in good faith to try to bring solutions to bear for the dairy industry,” Mayor Dillon Meek said in an interview in late April. “The unintended consequence of that would be, I think, losing the opportunity for the public to comment, and thus increase the risk of greater pollution in the North Bosque River,” the waterway that feeds Lake Waco and supplies the city's drinking water.
“I’m concerned about dairies, north of here on the Bosque River, that were getting cow manure in the river and the water supply 20 years ago,” Shank said. “Our water was brown and it had chunks floating in it.
“We couldn’t drink the water in Waco. We had to get bottled water. Poor people can’t afford bottled water, and we don’t want cow manure in our drinking water.”
She said she became very interested in the bill when Waco Mayor Dillon Meek began going to Austin to try to stop it.
“I can’t believe the East Waco rep, Republican Angelia Orr, would support those dairymen on that bill,” Shank said.
Shank said if the bill passes and the governor signs it, it will make the drinking water in the East Waco portion of Orr’s district polluted.
“How could she vote against her citizens in East Waco?” Shank said of Orr.
Another issue Shank cares about a great deal is energy laws.
“Of course I support our Texas oil and gas industry,” Shank said. “Lots of people have jobs in the oil and gas industry. But too many of the laws our Legislature passes to strengthen the oil and gas industry also seem designed to hurt wind power, solar power and renewable energy.”
Before going to law school Shank worked as a teacher. She is also a veteran’s spouse, mother of three children, a disability advocate and owner of two small businesses, according to a press release for her campaign announcement.
As a bankruptcy attorney, Shank helped more than 6,000 Central Texans during some of the most difficult times in their lives, according to the press release.
“She knows how to listen to folks, understand their issues, and then fight for them in Court,” the statement says.
In the Republican primary for District 56, McLennan County businessman Pat Curry and Devvie Duke, a former commercial insurance official who serves on the party’s State Republican Executive Committee, have announced their candidacy. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an endorsement of Duke on Tuesday.
Published in the Waco Tribune-Herald on 11/4/2023