Rep. Anna Eastman faces recent opponent Penny Morales Shaw in runoff for Texas House District 148

Emma Whalen

Penny Morales Shaw (left) and Rep. Anna Eastman (right) are facing off for the third time since November 2019 for the Texas House District 148 representing parts of North Houston and the Heights. (Screenshot via Community Impact staff)

Voters in Texas House District 148, which covers parts of the Heights, Northside and Northwest Houston areas, will return to the polls for the third time in six months beginning June 29.

After former Rep. Jessica Farrar resigned September 30, 2019, a primary and special election were held in November 2019 and January 2020, respectively, to fill the seat for the remaining months of Farrar’s term. Rep. Anna Eastman won the seat in January and began her bid for re-election again in Texas’ March 2020 primary.

Eastman now faces Penny Morales Shaw, who challenged her in the special election primary, as well, for a spot on the November 2020 general election ballot. The winner will face Republican candidate Luis LaRotta, who ran unopposed in the March 2020 primary.

Early voting for the runoff takes place June 29-July 2 and July 5-10, and election day is July 14. Find polling locations and coronavirus safety precaution information here.

Eastman and Shaw answered questions from Community Impact Newspaper about their previous experience and campaign priorities.

*indicates incumbent

*Rep. Anna Eastman, D-Houston
Experience/Occupation: state representative District 148, February 2020-present; Houston ISD trustee January 2010-December 2017.


How will your professional or personal experience prepare you for this position?

I am currently serving as the state representative for the district. My staff and I did not waste a moment to begin serving our constituents as we navigate the new uncharted reality of the pandemic and looming budget crisis for our state. I have experience seeing in times deep budget cuts to our school systems that will serve my district well in the next legislative session. In addition to providing direct services, I am also on policy working groups with my legislative colleagues throughout the state. I also continue to serve on direct service nonprofit boards focused on children in our community with the greatest needs. Having an up-close understanding of the real life problems my constituents are facing will help ensure that my work matters.

What will be your top priority if elected?

My top priorities remain the same: education, health care and common sense gun reforms. In this session, that means ensuring we do not make expedient, short-term cuts to our critical programs that will have potentially devastating long-term repercussions for future generations. Our children will be facing mountains even higher than we expected them to climb due to the pandemic’s impact on schooling and their health and welfare. I will be laser-focused on ensuring they have the resources they need and that they are deployed in a manner that positively impacts [children’s] well-being.

How can you represent the diverse needs of this district?

I have longtime relationships with people throughout District 148. I am a listener and serve to amplify the voices of those I represent, especially those who have historically not had a voice at the table. I am currently working to make sure constituents from east to west know me and my staff personally. My staff is bilingual and, as have I, [has] worked with partners throughout the district. We will build on those new relationships in addition to reinforcing existing ones.

Penny Morales Shaw
Experience/Occupation: attorney; human rights congressional legislative advocate; Harris County deputy chief of policy


How will your professional or personal experience prepare you for this position?

An integral part of my general law practice is understanding a broad range of legal issues and laws. Apart from gaining a deep understanding of statutes, codes and legislation for courtroom work, I sought out and trained for congressional advocacy to promote the passage of civil and human rights laws. My years of advocacy work involved advancing legislation through bipartisan appeal and support, working within budgetary constraints and briefing special committee members. My legal, policy and legislative experience and my concern for the well-being of community readily translate to the legalistic, variegated work of a state representative.

What will be your top priority if elected?

My top priority will be to make sure that our district, businesses, schools and every person has the resources needed to fully recover from the pandemic by working with the senior delegation and across the aisle. Health care systems’ support and patient access to medical care when needed; equipping our educators and schools for remote and alternative, safe forms of learning; protecting our economy; housing security—these are but a few of the top issues that concern me and that demand sensible, expeditious solutions.

How can you represent the diverse needs of this district?

I am a product of Houston: a Latina woman who grew up her, experienced our history, witnessed our expansive, rapid growth and now, acknowledge[s] our evolving needs. I equally acknowledge that good leadership means attentive listening and meaningful action. While we are many in this district, we have unified interests: safe communities, good jobs, good schools, our well-being, infrastructure to protect us from disasters and flooding, fair systems, social safeguards and good, honest governance. I embrace our diversity and differences and will legislate and support solution-driven policy that reflects a deep concern for every community and its unique needs.

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