Vela to Dukes: Resign "Immediately"

Candidate tells rep. to consider values, interests of constituents

Dawnna Dukes on Election Night, November 4, 2014
Dawnna Dukes on Election Night, November 4, 2014 (Photo by John Anderson)

Attorney, former chairman of the Workers Defense Project, and potential state representative for House District 46 Chito Vela called for the congressional seat's outgoing Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Pflugerville, to step down “immediately,” well in advance of her intended date of resignation, Jan. 10.

Dukes announced in September that she plans to leave her seat in HD 46 in January, two months after the general election, in which she ran and won. (Dukes has held her HD 46 seat since 1995.) The victory gave state Democrats temporary control over a seat the party sorely needs to keep.

Vela’s concern is that Dukes’ January departure would leave her seat open until March, well after the state’s 85th Legislative session is underway. Because Dukes’ planned departure falls on the first day of the new session, Vela believes it’s unlikely that the position will be filled prior to the March 10, 2017 bill filing deadline, “leaving her successor with little opportunity to propose new legislation.” When Dukes does resign, Gov. Greg Abbott will have 20 days to call a special election to fill her seat. Due to the timing of her departure (within the first 60 days of the new session), Texas law requires that the election must be held between 21 and 45 days after Abbott announces it.

“If Rep. Dukes waits until Jan. 10 to resign, families in East Austin, Manor and Pflugerville would go without any representation in the Texas House for most of the legislative session,” Vela said in a press statement issued this morning.

“The values and interests of our community will be under attack in the coming legislative session. Texas Democrats need every vote they can get. It takes time to hire staff, set up shop, and propose legislation. Rep. Dukes needs to put the needs of her constituents first and immediately resign her seat.”

Vela announced his intention to run for the seat earlier this month, joining former Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole; Dukes’ Republican opponent during the general election, Gabriel Nila; and self-aggrandizing DWI attorney Adam Reposa on any upcoming ballot. Vela noted this morning that other candidates should join him in demanding the outgoing representative’s expedited resignation.

Update: Travis County Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Harding told the Chronicle he's considering running for the HD 46 seat, as well.

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Rep. Dawnna Dukes, Chito Vela, Texas State House of Representitives, 85th Legislature, 85th Texas Legislature

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