Editor’s note: this interview took place between Jackson Paul and Shelley Barineau, a candidate in the runoff for house district 133, on 4/1/22. You can find Mrs. Barineau’s website here.
Jackson: Why don’t you start by introducing yourself to our readers?
Shelley: All right, I’m Shelley Barneau— Republican running for Texas State House 133.
Jackson: Why don’t you tell us a bit about your background?
Shelley: I was born and raised in Houston, in district 133. And I went to Hunter’s Creek Elementary, Spring Branch Middle School, Memorial High School, University of Texas, Austin, Hook’em Horns, and University of Houston Law School where I graduated magna cum laude. After that, I went to Austin. I was a briefing attorney for the Texas Supreme Court, followed by a litigator for Andrews and Kurth, L.L.P., I quit practicing law formally, after our second son was born. I am equally proud that for over 30 years, I have volunteered extensively in the Houston community with a focus on children, education and health. In 2016, my husband and I bought his family’s third-generation small business and I went back to work full time. Currently, I am Executive Vice President and General Counsel, and my focus is security, preservation and social services. Newt and I have four children and have been married for 30 years. District 133 is our home, where I have lived my entire life.
Jackson: What made you decide to run in this race?
Shelley: I decided to run for this race because I think 2022 is a unique time. When I was born, I was adopted into my family and brought home to a wonderful place, which is House District 133. I have had a blessed life and lived in a wonderful community that I love. And I have always felt like God put me in this space so that I could serve my community and those around me. I feel like it’s incumbent upon me to serve in 2022 because the business-as-usual candidates of old are well represented in the Texas House. It’s time for some fresh new voices, business leaders with a business mindset to ask new questions, and hopefully seek some more thorough legislation to the problems that are facing us in 2022.
Jackson: Could you elaborate on that last point a bit more? What sort of new questions would you be asking?
Shelley: When you’re a small operating business owner, you wake up and solve problems everyday in whatever aspect of your business they arise. In order to seek a permanent and fiscally responsible solution, we sit down and take a complete approach. Our executive team considers the positives and negatives, the costs, and the benefits of every issue or problem that arises, and we always have a mindset of being fiscally responsible because private operating businesses, especially small businesses, have to be very fiscally smart to stay in business. In my opinion, there’s a lot of intellectual dishonesty in our government entities today, particularly the national government, city government, and the Harris County government, where you see a lot of intellectual dishonesty, inconsistency, corruption, and favor giving. That’s just not good government. I will be asking new questions, because at least a third of the legislature, from my understanding, is practicing lawyers. And the opponent that I’m running against is a practicing lawyer. Not that that’s a problem, but that mentality is already overrepresented in our legislature. And that’s why our campaign slogan is: Native Texan. New Voice.
Jackson: What is the largest issue facing District 133?
Shelley: The largest issue facing 133 is crime. We need a comprehensive crime policy that involves bail reform, and meaningful reform to combat human trafficking which, brings dangerous actors into our city. The more we allow the cartels, the syndicates, and crime rings, to operate in these hideous criminal occupations of bringing fentanyl across the border and trafficking human beings the more our crime will escalate. In addition, we need to combat issues going on in our schools. We need to be able to count on schools to do the job of preparing students to embrace their futures. Student outcomes in reading and math are the essential mission of K-12 education. The Texas Legislature must provide more school choice options, and include transparency and accountability for parents with public school children.
Jackson: So you kind of anticipated my next question, but I was going to ask about the crime section in your policy area on your website. One of the most prominent things on there is about bail reform. So why don’t you talk a little bit about that? What do you think the problem is? And what do you think the policy solution that you would propose is?
Shelley: So the bail reform problem is multifaceted. The easiest way to fix the bail issue is vote Republican in November against the Democrat judges and county judge! Harris County is suffering from bad leadership. As a state rep, I will work to make sure Harris County has laws that require counties to protect their citizens with stronger bail laws, better funding for police and the Harris County DA’s office. In addition, we must address the incredible backlog of cases that this county administration has allowed to become unmanageable.
Jackson: If this problem can’t be addressed at the county level because our leaders aren’t able to address it, and so you’re going to try from the state level, what sort of legislation do you think would the legislator pass that would help fix this problem?
Shelley: I think that’s a complicated question. If necessary, the state must require the county to do its job because the number one thing the citizens of 133 want is safe streets. We’re going to work with Crimestoppers Houston, the Houston Police Department, the sheriff’s deputies, the constables, and constitutional lawyers to make sure we have laws that protect our citizens. Public safety is a matter of principle not politics. I will go to Austin committed to doing what is necessary to keep our citizens, and law enforcement, safe during these unprecedented times!
Jackson: Switching gears a little bit: the other big issue you talked about earlier was education, where you talked about how something like Florida’s bill might work in Texas. So how do you think that would play out? What sort of general tack would you like to see the legislator take on this, to accomplish what goals with what strategies?
Shelley: K-12 education in Texas is compulsory, meaning parents are required by law to send their children to school. That creates a duty to resist distractions, despite personal preferences or outside pressures to teach children what they need to compete in an increasingly complicated world. So first and foremost, we focus on education not indoctrination. In addition to the curriculum, we need to address biological men competing in women’s sports at the college level. We’ve done it in the K through 12, we need to finish the job. I know some people are already working on that legislation, and I would also support it. Florida has passed a bill precluding the teaching of sex-ed in grades lower than 4th, and this is a bill we need to promote in the next session. Little children do not need to be dealing with the complicated issues of sexuality. This is just not an appropriate space. We must get back to the basics, giving local control, putting parents in charge, supporting the laws that provide for parental accountability, and most importantly, transparency.
Jackson: Do you have anything else that you’d like to talk about to voters?
Shelley: I think one of the things I’d like to talk about is election integrity because I was an 18-year precinct chair. When I started as a precinct chair, we voted in our precincts, and the precinct chair would show up in the morning and get a book, and it would indicate who had voted early and who had voted by mail. Voting in your precinct is the most granular level of local control. We need to return to precinct voting. I would like the voters of 133 to know that I care, and I want to hand Texas over to my children and grandchildren the way it was handed to me. A place of faith, freedom, family and free markets. Right now, those values are under assault, and if Texas is at risk, Shelley wants in the fight! Texas is worth it.
Jackson: It’s great to hear Texas is worth it. Do you have any advice for some of our younger conservative readers who are getting started in the movement? What advice would you give to them?
Shelley: For my whole adult life, I have done something for our democracy, whether it’s volunteering to phone bank, block walking, making calls, or donating to candidates. Jackson, when I was your age, I worked in the phone bank in Austin for George H. W. Bush. Young people should try to participate, whether it’s making 10 calls for a candidate, block walking, attending an event, sending texts, helping with a mailer or donating, even if it’s $5. If someone can afford to give a day, they can sign up to be a poll watcher, a technology assistant or an election worker. Just do whatever is inside your comfort zone and participate in your democracy. Don’t think that you don’t matter. Roll out of bed because Texas is worth it! Join the fight for our democracy and our democratic values!
Jackson: Do you have any last words for our readers?
Shelley: God Bless Texas.
Jackson: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us.
Shelley: Thank you, Jackson!
Readers can learn more about Mrs. Barineau at her campaign website, https://shelleybarineau.com