Sara Stapleton Barrera is a constitutional lawyer and mother who’s running for state senate in District 27, a South Texas district centered in Brownsville. Stapleton Barrera previously challenged state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., a conservative Democrat who’s represented the district for three decades, coming up short in the primary in 2020. With Lucio retiring, she’s throwing her hat in the ring again.
The Signal spoke to Stapleton Barrera about her campaign and her priorities should she be elected. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What motivated you to run again?
Last go around, we had so much momentum and I feel like we really ignited a movement down here in South Texas. People were excited, people are hopeful. And I feel like this is just a continuation of that momentum, now’s the opportunity now that the seat has opened up. This is our time I feel to really take back our home and build a better community down here than we’ve had over the past 30 years. And it’s funny, because I hear a lot of different names of people that are being tossed around, and I would have no problem backing another candidate if I felt like it was somebody that I truly trusted. Somebody that I felt really had their heart in the right place regarding our district, but I just didn’t feel that way. I didn’t feel like I had full confidence in any of these names to really put our best interests at heart. So I had to make a decision. And the decision was to keep on building on this momentum or not. And here we are!
Speaking of other names, I am correct in saying no one else has officially declared?
No one has officially declared. I’m the first out of the gate, and I’m happy to be here.
One of the big surprises from the last election in Texas was how much Democrats underperformed in South Texas. What’s your take on the things the party needs to be doing in order to make sure that we’re winning those votes?
Yeah, we need all boots on the ground, this is not a matter of taking lightly. We have to work our tails off to make sure that we come up ahead. At least regarding District 27, I think that it still favors the Democrats. So you know, I think we’ll be fine. But obviously, it’s not something to take for granted. With hard work comes positive outcomes, so it’s just going to be a matter of everyone coming together and working our tails off to get to where we need to be.
What do you think makes you the best person for the job?
I think what sets me apart is I am not a career politician. I’m just a normal everyday mom that drives her kids to school and picks them up and is on the streets day in and day out and knows the issues and knows the struggle that everyday people in our district face. I mean, all too often we get these career politicians who sit fat and happy in these positions, make millions of dollars, are not transparent, and lose touch with what real life is like. But that’s not my situation. I don’t have anybody to answer to, any lobbyist or weird political connections to answer to. All I have is the people that I would represent and my neighbors. Nobody holds my purse strings and I think that’s what is certainly a standout.
Should you end up being elected, what would you say your priorities are in the legislature? What are the things that you would like to get done?
All too often, especially down here in the Valley, we’re the last in healthcare, the last in education, the last in getting jobs. It’s like we’re always sort of on the back burner. And I don’t know if it’s because we’re a border community or what it is. So we always seem to be an afterthought and I think that’s what needs to be changed. We are so rich in culture, and so rich, in many things down here in South Texas, and somebody needs to get up there and remind the rest of the state what it is we have to offer. So I think that we could really be leaders in all those things if we just have the right person in there fighting for it.
Is there any particular policy, or legislation that you would like to work on?
One thing that I’ve been pushing pretty hard is term limits. I’m the founder of South Texas for Term Limits, and I think that’s a really important issue. And since I’ve been pushing this, three of our municipalities have adopted term limits, and I think that’s majorly important. Nobody wants a politician in office for four decades, it’s just crazy. I think the only people that really oppose term limits are politicians. So that’s certainly something that I would like to address.
Do you have any specifics on what kind of term limits you would like to see?
We see our house representatives, and we see our senators go in there and favor term limits for other positions, minus their positions. I think that there should be term limits for our senators and for state reps. A politician that’s in office and does not have to live with the rules that he’s imposed as a normal everyday citizen, that’s problematic. We need people in office that say, “Hey, these are the laws that we should abide by,” and know that the laws they are passing, they’re gonna have to live under as well.
William serves as the Washington Correspondent for the Texas Signal, where he primarily writes about Congress and other federal issues that affect Texas. A graduate of Colorado College, William has worked on Democratic campaigns in Texas, Colorado, and North Carolina. He is an internet meme expert.