How long have you been a justice of the peace?
I was sworn into office on Jan. 1, 2011. I will begin my 11th year on the bench Jan. 1, 2021.
Before you won election, what kind of work did you do? How did you get interested in running for office?
Before being elected as a judge, my No. 1 job was mothering four wonderful children, who are now all adults with their own families.
I graduated from Dallas Baptist University, with a bachelor’s degree in education, and taught English in Chiayi, Taiwan, for two years. Returning stateside, I taught in several schools in Florida and Texas. I also started a small business as a side gig.
My desire to run for public office actually began after a visit to the Texas Capitol in Austin when I was 9. I thought it would be super cool to be the governor and have an office in the Capitol building and live in the Governor's Mansion, right across the street.
After getting married and having children, I began volunteering and got to know several elected officials. Attending commissioners court meetings and city council meetings, I eventually decided to run for public office. I also have an incredible mentor who encouraged me to take the risk. I am so glad she did!
WWhat was the biggest surprise or adjustment after taking office?
I have found that whether or not a person agrees with a court order, or final judgment, and likes or dislikes the outcome, the most important thing is that the person was given her/his day in court and had the judge's full attention to share her/his side of the incident. There is just something very satisfying and liberating knowing that you have been heard. So simple, yet profound. Just like our U.S. Constitution — simple and profound.
The rule of law applies to everyone. It is the principle that all members of society are equally subject to legal codes and processes. This principle inspires me.
What are some of the most difficult challenges you have faced and what advice would you give your peers across the state who may face similar challenges?
On Sunday morning, Nov. 5, 2017, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, here in Wilson County, was attacked by a single gunman, who killed 26 people and injured 20 others before killing himself. My prayer is that no one, ever, will have to experience such a horrific incident.
The greatest challenges on that day were to trust our training, work together to do what had to be done and to communicate calmly. Every elected official and first responder had a job that day, and it was done to the best of each person's ability.
Training and communication were key factors. As this community, the survivors, their families, friends and the church continue to heal and recover, we are still learning.
1 John 4:7-8 reminds us to "love one another." For me, the Golden Rule and these verses were huge guideposts and still are. Evil did not win.
Since taking office, what accomplishment are you most proud of?
Working with teens and young adults is most rewarding. I am so proud of several students who recently graduated from high school after having a few rough years of truant behavior and misdemeanor offenses.
Each young person who appears in my court is given a pocket-size U.S. Constitution and a page of civics assignments to work on, as well as a certain number of community service hours to complete. I spend about 90 minutes with each youngster and her/his parent(s) discussing how incredibly fortunate we are to be Texans and citizens of the USA. It thrills my heart to see these same students, "my kids," stand tall in their graduation robes, receiving scholarships, joining the military or entering the workforce. They are succeeding because they were encouraged, caught a vision, worked hard and overcame adversity. Personal responsibility is so important.
WWhat do you find are the most successful methods for reaching out to the residents of Wilson County to communicate what your office is doing and why?
The Wilson County website has a wealth of information and links to specific forms. The Wilson County News publishes an excellent weekly paper and hosts an incredible website and Facebook page for breaking news, public notices and government announcements.
WWhat do you do when you’re not at work? Do you have any hobbies or something unique that you are interested in that may surprise your colleagues?
As often as possible, I go to the beach. I co-teach a fourth/fifth-grade Bible class and enjoy worshipping God with other members of our congregation. I'm a member of the Floresville Lions Club, the W.C. Historical Society, Mission Heritage Partners (San Antonio), our local Salvation Army service unit and the American Legion Auxiliary. I also serve on the advisory board for Camino Real (MHMR) Services.
Just recently, I joined a women's competitive powerlifting team.
What is your favorite thing about Wilson County?
TI love this county’s rich history and exciting stories. While serving on Wilson County’s sesquicentennial committee several years ago, I was reminded of the early settlers, men and women, farmers, ranchers, priests, preachers, immigrants and natives, young and old, whose hopes and dreams laid the foundation for what our county is today.
My favorite time period dates back to the mid-1700s, when the Spanish missions of San Antonio were most active. Here in Wilson County, we revere our part of that history, known as Rancho de las Cabras. Our rancho has been designated, along with those missions, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A wonderful quote that I read recently, sums up my passion for history: "The driving force of history is the daily life of ordinary people." It is such a privilege to serve ordinary people in extraordinary ways.