Hilltoppers Vote: Voter’s Guide for 2020 Election Season

Every voter should be an informed voter! Hilltop Views has put together a Voter’s Guide so you can be prepared when entering the polls.

Federal Offices

U.S. Senate Texas

John Cornyn (i,R) John Cornyn is United States Senator, based in Texas. He was born in Houston and grew up in San Antonio. He is currently the incumbent, meaning he is the one currently in office. He is running against MJ Hegar, with a slogan of “Serving All Texans.” His main issues are “combatting human trafficking, allowing parents to choose schools for their children, veteran support, and international trade law.” He voted in support of DACA and cosponsored the Secure and Succeed Act in 2018 that proposed a pathway Dreamers in Texas to citizenship. He is anti-Obamacare, pro-law enforcement, pro-agriculture, and pro-oil. He has a track record of voting on bills that would provide funding for Hispanic communities, even being Named Mr. South Texas in 2015 for his “dedication to the growth and development of Laredo and the South Texas region.” He also believes in strengthening the criminal background check to prevent convicted felons from getting firearms. 

Mary Jennings Hegar (D) MJ Hegar is running against incumbent John Cornyn.  MJ Hegar, a combat veteran and working mom, inspired to run for the senate to fight for Texans. She sees the broken system that isn’t working for us,which is why she does not accept money from corporate PAC’S. As a senator she’ll vote against legislation that benefits corporations/the wealthy and hurts working families trying to make ends meet. Hegar wants everyone to have access to affordable healthcare, creating a public option to make medicare available to all who want it. She also stands firm that politicians should not legislate a woman’s most intimate decisions — fighting for productive rights and supports Roe v. Wade. She also believes in passing criminal justice reform that combat racial and economic disparities; ending racial profiling, supports police reform and ending for profit police practices wanting to end federal contracting of for profit detention companies. She also sees climate change as the threat it is, and is one of the main reasons she decided to run for senate, as she plans to move toward renewable energy. She is a LGBTQ+ supporter and will fight for all Texans’ rights, wanting to expand the Equality Act. Supports workers rights to unionize, wants to raise wages and lower housing prices, invest in high quality public education, and affordable higher education. She is pro sensible gun laws to end the epidemic of gun violence. She stands with military and veterans, and plans to fix the broken immigration system, permanently ending child separation, and ensuring they are not treated as criminals. 

U.S. House Texas District 21

Chip Roy (i,R) Chip Roy is a former federal prosecutor and top advisor to many prominent Texas elected officials, who previously served as chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).  Roy’s district stretches from south Austin through the hill country to downtown San Antonio. His campaign slogan for the upcoming election is “Helping Workers and Small Businesses Through Coronavirus.” He aims to work on veteran issues, immigration, healthcare freedom, and budgetary issues. In May, he introduced a bill that aimed to help small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis, something he thinks is important to drive the economy out of the pandemic. He is anti-abortion, anti-Obamacare, and pro-labor.

Wendy Davis (D) Democrat Wendy Davis has a six-step plan to help Texans receive healthcare. This plan includes allowing families the option of Medicare coverage and negotiating the price of prescription drugs. Davis plans to work toward “quality, affordable education for all Texans.” This includes child care for families, raising teacher compensation and free community college for middle and low income families. As for immigration, she plans to pass a reform which will provide a pathway to citizenship and also protects our borders. Davis supports action that will lead the U.S. to attaining carbon neutrality by 2050. She also wants to pass the Equality Act and fix the Fair Housing Act to protect LGBTQ+ Americans. 



Texas Railroad Commissioner

Chrysta Castaneda (D) Dallas trial lawyer Chrysta Castaneda plans to enforce laws to protect our air and water. Flaring, which is lighting natural gas on fire, decreases air quality, and Castandena will not stand for it. She plans to offer solutions that will stop the waste and pollution. As commissioner she plans to limit methane and other emissions through leak detection and prevention. 

James Wright (R) Jim Wright feels strongly on border security to not only protect families but also our oil and gas industry. Wright believes that :All Texans benefit from the oil and gas industry,” and wants to keep Texan leaders focused on keeping the industry strong. Wright wants to ensure Texans have strong environmental protection policies in place, however does not share specifics. Another issue his campaign runs on is private property rights. He plans to do this through balancing the needs of economic growth and protecting private property owners. 

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice

Nathan Hecht (i,R) Elected in 1998, 2994,2000, 2006 and 2012 the senior Texas appellate judge is running once again. Hecht works to provide the poor with legal services, He is running to continue providing support for veterans, victims of domestic abuse and families who may lose their homes. 

Amy Clark Meachum (D) Meachum has served at the presiding judge of the 201st District Court of Travis County since 2011. She is also the Civil Presiding Judge for family and civil courts in all of Travis County. Meachum has worked to provide more access to basic legal services to Texans in need. She is a speaker for the State Bar of Texas, Austin Bar Association and the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. 

Texas Supreme Court Place 6

Jane Bland (i,R), Recognized for approving Texas’s judiciary Bland was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas in 2019. For six years, Bland was a state district judge and served as a justice on the First Court of Appeals for 15 years.

 Kathy Cheng (D) Cheng understands the reality of Texas law, in which not all Texans are represented fairly. Cheng sees that the Texas Supreme Court does not reflect the diversity of the state. Cheng served as the voice for her clients in the Greater Houston area for the past two decades in her private practice. Moving to America when she was a little girl, she plans to use her life experiences to ensure Texan’s diverse perspectives are heard. 

Texas Supreme Court Place 7

Jeffrey S. Boyd (i,R) Jeffrey S. Boyd is currently a judge in the Supreme Court, the court of last resort for civil and juvenile appeals in Texas. He is running for re-election against Staci Williams. He received a degree in biblical studies in 1983 and a law degree in 1991. He was previously Chief of Staff for Governor Rick Perry, as well as his general counsel. Before graduating law school, he was a youth minister in Austin. He is a firm believer that judges should “interpret and apply the law as written-not to create it or rewrite it.” He is pro-law enforcement and believes courts should be brought back to in-person meetings ASAP. 

Staci Williams (D) Staci Williams is a Democrat and a judge of the 101st District Court since 2014, with her current term ending in 2022. Williams received a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and her J.D. from Georgetown University. Williams is a proponent of diversity within the Texas Supreme Court and believes the court only favors the views of the more privileged by supporting evictions and making it harder to vote by mail during a pandemic. She created the Citizen’s Civil Academy to train people in the civil court system and promote participation in the jury process. If elected, she would be the first Black woman to serve on the Texas supreme Court. 

Texas Supreme Court Place 8

Brett Busby (i,R) Brett Busby believes a “judge’s job is to deliver justice for all: giving everyone the fair day in court they deserve and ruling impartially based on the law, never imposing personal or political views in the courtroom to reach a desired result.” Busby has provided many hours of free legal aid and works toward getting all Texans basic legal services. He has also altered the way he serves during a pandemic through use of innovative technology, making sure anyone who needs representation can still access it. 

Gisela Triana (D) Triana has served over 24 years on the Judicial Bench. She has experience serving on the Third Court of Appeals and every level of the Texas trial courts. Triana has also served on the 200th Judicial District Court of Texas. She is known for being fair, deliberate, courteous and willing to listen to all sides. 

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 3

Bert Richardson (i,R) Richardson is Board Certified In Criminal Law and served 10 years on the 379th District Court after appointment by Gov. Bush. He has appellate experience in over 100 cases at both state and federal levels. Richardson has over 30 years of trial experience as a lawyer and judge assistant. He also served as the U.S. attorney for the western district of Texas and assistant district attorney in Bexar County. 

Elizabeth Davis Frizell (D) Frizell is a solo practitioner and has practiced law for 27 years and has been a judge for the past 20 years. She has served as a judge on every level except for the appellate level. She has experience providing over cases with punishments of five years to 99 years. Voters should choose me because I bring balance to this court. I’m the only candidate who has experience with the U.S. Department of Justice and a total of 15 years as a defense attorney,” Frizell says. Frizell hopes that if she is elected she will reflect and represent who Texans truly are. 

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4

Kevin Patrick Yeary (i,R) Originalist judge Kevin Yeary believes, “the Judiciary must be fiercely independent, but also cautious in the exercise of its immense power.” Before being elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2014, Yeary was a civil litigator and criminal defense attorney. He served 20 years as an appellate prosecutor in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. He has briefed and argued cases in his current court and the Texas Supreme Court. He also prepared and filed briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Tina Yoo Clinton (D) One of the current judges of the Dallas County Criminal District Court No. 1 in Texas. She has 25 years of criminal law experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judge. She aims to bring balance, fairness and diversity to the highest criminal court. Her areas of public policy that she is passionate about are actual innocence, judicial and attorney education, bonds, 11.07 writs, mental health issues, and court technology.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 9

David Newell (i,R) Judge Newell has over two decades of experience in criminal law as both an appellate practitioner and judge. He is board certified in criminal law and criminal appellate law. He was also admitted to practice before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brandon Birmingham (D) Birmingham believes being a  judge is not a popularity contest, It’s about making the tough decisions and striving for a fair and just outcome in every case. He believes our justice system demands a fiercely independent judiciary, free from improper influences.

Texas State Board of Education District 5

Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D) is a professor of English and film at Texas State University. She hopes to remove Texas’ reliance on high-stakes standardized testing, have up-to-date texts and prepare students for their future careers.

Lani Popp (R) Has been a private and public school educator for 28 years, has a specialty in working with autistic students as a speech language pathologist. Her priorities are to review textbooks to discourage bias, ensure curriculums are age-appropriate and historically and scientifically accurate, and reform the standardized testing system in Texas

State Representative District 51

Robert Reynolds (R) Republican candidate Robert Reynolds is running in the fight for veterans, education and health care. Reynolds plans to work with state agencies to ensure veterans have the resources and support needed. Reynolds says that public schools are the foundation of our communities. He plans to “defend our public schools by working to provide staff, students, and parents the resources they need to be successful.” In his fight for healthcare, if elected Reynolds will fight to lower prescription costs. He believes everyone deserves access to quality insurance. He will also ensure women have access to life-saving screenings and exams.

Eddie Rodriguez (D) Democratic incumbent Eddie Rodriguez told the Austin-American Statesman.” I will restore the City of Austin’s ability to use powerful tools for preserving affordable housing under the Homestead Preservation Act that I passed in 2005.” If elected, Rodriguez will expand access to more communities in quality public education, healthcare, broadband internet, healthy food, transportation options. Rodriguez plans to organize Medicaid expansion, support small-business and working class families, as well as fight budget cuts to public education and women’s health services. He stands with women in the fight for reproductive rights and wants to put an end to gun violence while respecting responsible gun owners. 

Chief Justice, Texas 3rd Court of Appeals District

Jeff L. Rose (i,R) Incumbent Chief Justice Rose says he will work to ensure the Court does good work for Texans. Rose says there is no place for politics.Rose served as Chair of the Council of Chief Justices of Texas’ Appellate Courts and a board member of the Texas Center for the Judiciary, Rose does not want to risk “another partisan blow taking away the leadership of Texas’ most productive, most important appellate court.”

Darlene Byrne (D) Time is of the essence when making decisions that impact the lives of real Texans, whether that be in family court, civil court, or criminal court. Getting off the bench and supporting my community as a volunteer. I am not afraid of hard work and long hours, both on and off the bench.

District Judge, 53rd Judicial District

Maria Cantú Hexsel (D) The Honorable Cantu Hexsel is a member of The Hispanic Bar Association and has been in the legal field for over 25 years. She has experience from practicing at a small plaintiff’s law firm, litigating for Texas as an assistant attorney general and leading a complex civil litigation. ​Cantu Hexsel says she is running for District Judge to combine her experience in the law with her passion for community service, ensuring the community has judges with experience who reflect the communities they serve. 

District Judge, 98th Judicial District 

Rhonda Hurley (i, D) n/a

District Judge, 126th Judicial District 

Aurora Martinez Jones (D) The Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones works to ensure the most fragile members of our community have fair access to justice.

District Judge, 167th Judicial District

Dayna Blazey (D) Dayna Blaey works to prioritize diversion programs to keep low-level non violent offenders out of jail. She will work to support a fully funded Public Defender’s Office and will personally review billabong applications.

District Judge, 200th Judicial District

Jessica Mangrum (D) Mangrum knows the harms caused due to delays in the civil justice system. This is why efficiency is a priority of hers, ensuring cases are given the attention needed. As the only woman board certified in construction law, Mangrum says she is capable of making decisions involving unsafe properties. She will also work to make sure those in the community are aware of the free-legal assistance the county offers. 

District Judge, 345th Judicial District

Jan Soifer (i,D) A former lawyer, the Honorable Soifer believes in our justice system and in hearing from the community. Soifer was a former lawyer advocating for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ marriages and equality and civil rights. 

District Judge, 353rd Judicial District

Madeleine Connor (D) n/a

District Judge, 390th Judicial District

Julie Kocurek (i,D) Julie Kocurek has served as the judge for the 390th judicial district since 1999. Her goal is to treat individuals with dignity, respect and fairness. She continues to strive for innovative ways to keep the community safe and rehabilitate those in the criminal justice system. 

District Judge, 427th Judicial District

Tamara Needles (i,D) Prior to becoming district judge in 2016, Needles worked in criminal law for two decades representing criminal matters. Her drive for reelection is based within the role of a district judge and her approach of “humanity first” with the court, she wants to continue to treat people with fairness and compassion and is currently working on developing a mental health diversion program which would divert low- level non violent offenders with mental illnesses to a hospital diversion instead of jail. 

District Judge, 450th Judicial District

Brad Urrutia (i,D) Urrutia is dedicated to indigent defense which includes undocumented defendants. He wants to ensure the rights of the accused without sacrificing the safety of the community and feels strongly about helping our veterans.

District Judge, 460th Judicial District

Geoffrey Puryear (i,R) As a misdemeanor and felony prosecutor, Judge Puryear has devoted his career to public service, seeking justice for victims of violent crimes in dozens of trials in front of judges and juries. In 2012, he was appointed to Texas Crime Victims’ Advisory Council by Gov. Rick Perry and to the 460th District Court by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2019.

Selena Alvarenga (D) Is challenging incumbent Puryear in the 460th judicial district race, running for office because she seeks to be part of the critical need for criminal justice reform, and plans to reimagine justice that is defined as every person being treated fairly under the law — a criminal justice system that works for all of us. 

District Attorney, 53rd Judicial District

José Garza (D) Our criminal justice system weighs most heavily on working-class people and people of color—it doesn’t have to be that way. Restore trust in our District Attorney’s office by ensuring that our criminal justice system reflects the values of our community. Reimagine justice in Travis County.

Martin Harry (R) Enforce all laws fairly and uniformly. Emphasize rehabilitation. Right to reasonable bail must be respected. Prosecutors will not stack charges or overcharge as tactics to compel a guilty plea. Identify laws and regulations subject to criminal sanctions for repeal or modification that fail to provide clear notice of a scienter element required for violation to prevent abuses in their enforcement. 


County Judge, Unexpired Term

Michael Lovins (R) Michael Lovins is running to fill the public safety gap, and propose a budget that fully funds the county’s law enforcement. He plans to “get smart on COVID” by making sure future emergency orders have clearly defined and measurable goals and objectives.He wants to improve public health care services by using innovative and market-based solutions to increase availability and decrease costs. He opposes Project Connect and supports an addition of roads and more lanes on highways to cut traffic. 

Andy Brown (D) Andy Brown’s campaign highlights more funding for mental health, behavioral health instead of new jails. He wants to fully fund the county’s efforts in combating sexual and family violence by improving law enforcement. He plans to ban strangleholds for county law enforcement and fully fund body and dashboard cameras. He will advocate for Medicare for all and expand mental health access. Brown’s COVID-19 response includes an equitable investment in PPE, more better contact tracing and support of food hubs. His emergency preparedness and prevention plan includes the conservation of water and energy, environmental justice and emission reduction.

Judge, County Court at Law No. 9

Kim Williams (i,D)  Judge Williams is a former assistant district and county attorney in Travis County. Williams says, “I believe that every person who comes to the courthouse is an individual with unique needs and concerns. I am committed to treating each person and case with fairness, dignity, and respect.”

Travis County Sheriff

Sally Hernandez (i,D)  Mental illness is not a crime. Leading a progressive Travis County jail. Building community trust. Supporting survivors of sexual assault. 

Raul Vargas (R)  ICE detention requests must be upheld to keep our communities safe. Support the 2nd Amendment. Stop the violent crime experienced both within and outside the homeless community. An officer equipped with rigorous training, proper guidance and development, will ensure sound judgement thus increasing the safety of officers and the public at large.

Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector

Bruce Elfant (i,D)  Increase access to tax office online services. Promote voter registration and civic engagement. Record of innovation in office. Passionate about encouraging American citizens to engage in the affairs of their community and country

 Marilyn Jackson (R) Eliminating property taxes. Supports incentives, such as an end to the business margins tax, to attract new business. Reducing crime and fighting poverty