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Dallas' Victoria Neave On Winning An Election On A Challenging Night For Democrats

Molly Evans
State Rep. Victoria Neave speaks with KERA's Rick Holter.

In an election dominated by Republicans, there were only a few scattered bright spots for Democrats this week. One of them happened in Dallas County, political rookie Victoria Neave, upended a Republican incumbent, Kenneth Sheets, in Texas’ most expensive state House race.

For this week's Friday Conversation, Neave sits down with KERA's vice president of news, Rick Holter.

Interview highlights: Victoria Neave...

...On what it is like being the only Democrat who won on Election Night:"When they were posting the numbers we were surrounded by supporters and at the time did not know which way the presidential election was going to go. We were very excited when we heard the results about our race, and as the night progressed and we started hearing about the possibility of Trump being our president, the mood changed. We knew that this election means a lot more than ever. We've got to work very, very hard."

...On whether her win was bittersweet:

"Yes, it's absolutely bittersweet and I think it makes me want to work even harder because having a Trump presidency and the impact of that in our community. The impact on families in our community, undocumented families. Latinos, African Americans, everybody who's been attacked by Trump, I really feel a big obligation and sense of responsibility to be another voice in our legislature."

...On whether she wanted  to grow up and become a politician:

"I come from a working class family. I grew up in the barrio in Pleasant Grove, I volunteered on a campaign for Regina Montoya Coggins, who ran for Congress back in the day. I was in high school at the time and I got some of my friends and we went to go knock on doors for her. I think another part of it was going to Ursuline Academy from Pleasant Grove, there were three of us at the time, and commuted about an hour to get there. Just seeing the wealth gap, that really opened up my eyes to the wealth gap in our city and the importance of education because a lot of the students that I went to school with their parents were attorneys, doctors they were business people and they had gone to college. I was the first in my family to go college, and so to me, I really realized the importance of education and investment in our public schools. Because not everybody would have that opportunity to get the education that I did. That's why education is such a big piece, making sure that we take care and invest in our public schools for our children."

...On her race being the most expensive house race in Texas:

"We knew we were going up against the big special interest, big insurance company industry, pay day lenders that were backing our opponent. One thing we did and worked hard to do was build coalitions and bridges with people regardless of party. We talked about education, about increasing the minimum wage and about the issues. Even though we were out raised by two-to-one, what we had was people. People involved in our campaign that had never been involved before were out there helping us knock on doors."

...On how the Democratic party reinvent itself:

"Our party has been working very hard, I think the party needs to analyze the numbers, look and see where we lost votes across the state and see what needs to be done to be able to make sure that we turn out the vote. But I think Hillary's numbers here in Texas showed there is opportunity, and it's not necessarily about turning Texas blue, I think it's about making sure that we have more people running for office. The candidates who ran and did a great job showed the number of democrats that live in the district or were willing to vote for Democratic views."