The Agenda

10 Questions: Texas State Rep. Celia Israel

Editor’s Note:  This article is part of a series called “10 Questions.”  10 Questions will help you meet Victory Fund’s endorsed candidates and those closest to the organization. How did Victory’s Candidate and Campaign Training help prepare you for your election?

  • I participated in the training in the Summer of 2013.  I’ve been involved in many, many campaigns, but by attending the training it really helped to emphasize the importance of a fundraising plan, a budget and a candidate who is focused on raising money.  The pressure was put on my shoulders and I knew my responsibility to the campaign.  I needed that kick in the pants.

What can you not start your day without?

  • I can’t start my day without checking in on social media.  I’m a sucker for Facebook and Twitter which I use to graze over interesting articles and takes on the political news.

What is the most critical piece of legislation the Texas legislature could pass?

  • It may seem small, but Texas votes nearly last in the country in terms of voter participation.  We can register online to ask for a gun permit, but we can’t register online to get a voter registration card!  It is a priority for my office.  We can’t turn Texas Blue until we turn it purple and that means not letting all those ‘new Texans’ off the hook when it comes to voting.  Vote, vote, vote!

How did Victory help support your campaign?

  • I received a PAC check at a critical juncture.  I was running against one Republican and two Democrats in a special election.  Getting traditional fundraising support was difficult because many (not all) Democratic donors were waiting to see who the last Democrat standing was going to be before they invested.  Friends and family came through for me in a big way.  I guess when you think about our LGBT use of the word “family” – The Victory Fund was part of my “family” who helped us get into the runoff election.

If you were able to only take one thing to a deserted island other than food and water, what would it be?

  • An ocean Kayak.  I’m from El Paso, Texas so I’m not much of a fisherwoman, but something tells me a kayak would come in handy….

What elected official do you admire most?

  • I admire Texas State Senator, Leticia Van De Putte.  She is a pharmacist, a mother, owns a small business with her husband and is a kick ass Senator.  The future demographics tell us the Latino vote is key and I find Leticia’s cultural connection to voters (she is Latina as well), her own down to earth approach as well as her years of service quite valuable to help us reach Latino and mainstream voters.  She just rocks.

What is the most important thing for a legislator to keep in mind?

  • Don’t lie.  Whether that’s to the voters or to colleagues or special interests who will be coming before you for help on issues they care about.  They can tell when you are being fake so I believe it’s important to just be up front on where you are coming from and speak from the heart so no one is surprised.  You do more damage when you lie.

If you were to predict where the LGBT community will be in 10 years what would it look like?

  • We have come so far – so fast!  As a young girl, I never dreamed of my wedding.  Actually, I ran as far away from ‘wedding stuff’ as possible because that involved wearing a dress and I was such a ‘tomboy.’  Given how fast we are moving, I see the US Supreme Court seeing the cultural shift we have been going through as a country and finally saying to us ‘love is love.’

Who is/was the greatest role model in your life?

  • The last great Governor of the State of Texas and my former boss – Ann W. Richards.  She taught me about how important it is to connect personally with people around you.  Laugh. And she gave me the opportunity of a lifetime when in my mid-20’s she gave me a job at the Texas State Capitol.  I was surrounded by good people trying to do good things and I learned so much.  Although she died too young for many of us Texans, she left behind many like me who were inspired to get involved in public service and in our community to create positive change.  Her spirit still looms large in Texas.

Not that you have much but what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

  • I’m determined to take my ocean kayak (back to the island thing again!) out as many times as possible this year and eventually explore the Texas gulf coast.  Strange for a desert girl to want to do this, but that’s the plan, anyway.  We have a re-election campaign to run now (this November) so it sounds a bit obsessive, but I really love meeting voters at the door.  If I’m not campaigning – I’m going to be taking my kayak out someplace in Central Texas and getting ready for my tour of the Texas Coast.

Have a “10 Questions” idea?  Email [email protected] with your ideas.