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Alvarado, Hernandez throw jabs at Senate District 6 debate

December 5, 2018

State Reps. Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez swatted at each other’s legislative records Tuesday evening during the only debate in the special election to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Sylvia Garcia, with Hernandez suggesting Alvarado “compromised her values” to win chairmanships and Alvarado pushing back that she was proud to gain leadership appointments under a moderate Republican speaker.

Otherwise, Hernandez, Alvarado and Mia Mundy, a Democrat also seeking the seat, laid out staunchly progressive platforms, calling for the state to kick in more funds for public education and registering agreement on each immigration issue raised, including unanimous opposition to a border wall and Texas’ anti-“sanctuary cities” law.

Martha Fierro, a precinct chair for the Harris County Republican Party who is also running, declined to attend the debate, which was hosted by ABC 13 and Univison 45 at the University of Houston-Downtown.

The back-and-forth dialogue kicked off about 40 minutes into the debate, when Hernandez was asked about the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board’s statement that she “hasn’t gained the sort of leadership positions that Alvarado boasts.”

Hernandez, first elected to the House in 2005, noted that she has served in the House under Republican leadership, and said she had not sought leadership positions if doing so “compromises the values that you’ve been elected to represent.”

“To have to compromise and negotiate to be in a leadership position, I will not do that,” she said. “I will represent the best interests of my constituents.”

Alvarado, given time to respond, said she and Hernandez have “pretty much the same” voting records.

“When you have to get 76 votes to pass something, you have to work across the aisle,” said Alvarado, who chairs the Urban Affairs Committee and was first elected to the House in 2008. “And I’m proud of the trust and the confidence that a moderate Republican like (Speaker) Joe Straus placed in me not to chair one committee, but two committees.”

She went on to invoke the chairmanships of Democratic state Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman.

“So I would say by mentioning the words ‘compromise your values,’ I’ve never done that,” she said. “I don’t forget where I come from. I live in my community, I actually live in this district.”

Hernandez, who said after the debate that she does in fact live in Senate District 6, shot back, saying, “This moderate Republican speaker that has appointed her (as) chair, it’s the same one that pushed SB 4” — a reference to the law that requires local law enforcement to abide by federal officials’ requests to detain people believed to have entered the country illegally.

“You tell me if that’s moderate,” Hernandez said, adding “and I’m glad that you mentioned Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman, because I am proud to have their endorsement for my candidacy for Senate District 6.”

In her closing statement, Alvarado appeared to make a veiled reference to the dialogue.

“I also realize that promises don’t equate to much if you don’t have the results to back them up,” she said.

jasper.scherer@chron.com

twitter.com/jaspscherer

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