Editor’s Note: The interview took place via zoom on 08/15/22. Davis is the Republican nominee for Dallas County Judge. She graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in sociology; she is also a small business owner. She will face off against three-term incumbent Democrat Clay Jenkins in the November 8th election. Davis’s website can be found at davis4dallas.com.
Garrit: Why have you decided to run for Dallas County Judge?
Lauren: We realized during COVID times that it [the County Judge] was an extremely powerful position and very important. Particularly here in Dallas County, where I live, Clay Jenkins, who’s my opponent…I call him the head of the snake of everything that happens… I had kids in public school up until last year. So, when he defied Governor Abbott’s GA-38 Executive Order he directly impacted our family. My kids were in Dallas ISD, and they’ve got different medical issues. My middle son, Pierce, who was in eighth grade last year has survived three open heart surgeries. I just felt like, at this point, I should be able to choose if my kids wear a mask or not. I’m not an anti-masker, per se, I’m just very pro-freedom and pro-parental rights. So, we went without a mask. My two kids were the only two out of 604 kids who showed up without a mask. So the school and Clay Jenkins–under his leadership–just tried to ruin my children and ruin my family. My son is in eighth grade and my daughter is in fifth grade. They coned my daughter off in PE class where she had to sit there and watch all the other kids run around and play. She had to just sit and watch. Then they removed both of them from the classroom, isolated them in the library, and withheld their education. They wouldn’t even let them in the cafeteria where all the other kids were unmasked and eating. Then they took it even further and built a plexiglass cage around them in the library–floor to ceiling–to the point where they couldn’t breathe. So, I just experienced the unintended consequences of these ridiculous mandates. Our business, we are barbershop owners ( we started our first business when we were 25 in Frisco, Texas), was shut down for eight weeks. Then we were told that we could open at 30% and 50%. We’re lucky we came out of it with most of our business intact. So, I’m just a mother and a business owner. I’m not a politician. I never wanted to do this. I’ve just had enough. The County Judge is no judge at all–it’s a CEO position. My opponent is a personal injury attorney. So, I think he’s wholly unqualified, and I am the most qualified considering I’m an entrepreneur and have run businesses for the last 14 years.
Garrit: Regarding this race, your campaign raised $360,000 more than incumbent Clay Jenkins. In 2020, Dallas County voted for Biden 64.89% to Trump’s 33.29%. It also voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Barack Obama in 2012 and 2008. Needless to say, it has a track record of voting for Democrats. It’s a pretty blue County. What factors do you think are contributing to the momentum of your campaign and the success it is having–at least with fundraising?
Lauren: I think there are a couple of things. One is the national trends and movements. The left has gone too far. We’re a two-party system, I respect that and appreciate it, and I don’t think power should ever be centralized. We should not be a one-party country. That’s not how our Founding Fathers set us up. What is happening is un-American–I think people are really feeling that in their day-to-day lives. I think the position that I’m running for–particularly–is interesting and causing some momentum. What I represent, the type of candidate I am–being a business owner, a mother, a real everyday person–and with people being absolutely tired of the career politician profile, I think all of those combined have energized our Republican base. Yes, Dallas County has historically been a Democrat County, but those are people who were like the JFK or Clinton Democrats where they represented more of the working class and still had hints of American ideals. Things have shifted, and I think we’re going to see the consequences of that in this race. With funding, I’ve had everything from a $2 donation to a $100,000 donation. Most of my money is coming from very small dollars–bus drivers, retired people, I even got a $5 check with a handwritten note. People are ready to be represented by people like me who are everyday Americans who just want to save our country from crazy outlandish policies.
Garrit: Do you think that you will win in November against Clay Jenkins?
Lauren: I do. All the numbers are there that we need. Dallas County is really a true independent County. It’s swung in different ways over the years. I think everything that I represent is energizing our base and also pulling in independents who are, at their heart, true Americans. They’re starting to wake up and see the truth and the consequences of these un-American policies. We’ve got polling that’s looking good. It’s just going to take someone who’s going to work hard, and at our campaign–Davis for Dallas–we’re entrepreneurs, we’re running it very conventionally and unconventionally, and we are working harder than–I would say–any candidate has ever worked for this position. I think that’s what the money raised is showing–our hard work.
Garrit: Do you have any specific numbers from polling that you’d like to share?
Lauren: Our initial polling in April showed that–on an informed ballot–I was leading Clay Jenkins 44% to 43% with 12% undecided. I think that shows there’s a window of opportunity to take him out there. He’s got incredible name ID–it’s nearly 100%. But that’s because, like Gavin Newsom and Cuomo who were on TV every day during that pandemic, people associate him with the lockdowns. They don’t like it. Another interesting thing is my name ID was essentially zero on December 12th. As of April, my name ID had gotten all the way up to 43%. We’re ramping up and people are finding out about our campaign. The combination of all those things. It’s no one smoking gun thing that’s going to get it done. It’s going to be this window of opportunity that we’re blowing open.
Garrit: Do you think the momentum of your campaign could also boost other Republicans on the ballot in Dallas County?
Lauren: Yes. We saw that in the primary. I mobilized in eight weeks; I put my name in on December 13th. Early voting started on February 14th, and we won with 69% of the vote. We pulled out about 17,000 more voters than we had anticipated. Particularly in the mom and women category…I had moms hosting coffees for me that had never put a sign in their yard before and had never been politically active ever. We’re pulling people off the sidelines and mobilizing them in my campaign. In fact, we have a whole brand within the campaign called “happy warrior.” That is a nod to all the women like myself who had never been politically active, but who’ve had enough of the absurdity and are ready to take a stand. We reject people calling us “angry moms” because I’ve been called that. There’s nothing about myself or who I am as a person that is angry and they tend to mistake our joyfulness and our happiness as weakness. That’s just not going to work out well for them. We can be happy and strong and fierce all at the same time. We’re going to mobilize our mom network pretty big here in Dallas County.
Garrit: If you are elected, there will be other Democrats elected within the county, how do you plan on working with Democrats?
Lauren: I worked with all different people throughout my career from all walks of life. We’re in the barber shop industry. It brings us people from every facet of life–which has been so amazing and such a growth opportunity for me as a professional. I think that when you have a clear mission that’s rallied around everyone exceeding and living out their fullest potential…God put us here on this earth to be the fullest expression of the gifts he gave us. So, I think that if you can create a vision and a mission around that, then no matter what side of the aisle, people come together on that. That’s why we see sports as such a great analogy to this because in times that are hard we usually come together in sports like baseball, football, and basketball. People love an underdog story. I still believe that’s in everybody–even if they’re currently mad or disenfranchised right now. I think we can ignite that in all of us because I think it’s innate just being born in America. We’re just going to tap into that, and it’ll bring people together. I’m certain of it.
Garrit: Moving on to some specific policy issues. There has been heightened concern over Monkeypox with the Biden Administration declaring a national health emergency. How do you plan to address future health and pandemic scares, and how do you plan to deal with possible pressure placed on you as County Judge from the Federal or State government or from businesses and corporations within Dallas County that wants you to shut down the county?
Lauren: Sure. Public health is a huge part of the County Judges’ responsibility and roles. I think when you’re looking at public health, which I have a very intimate familiarity with through all the surgeries my son and my daughter have gone through, you’re looking at individuals. It’s not one size fits all. I think that’s where they went wrong. Mandates have unintended consequences that will cost lives–as we’ve seen with mental health and suicide. I believe that the role of the government in public health is to gather all information and ensure we’ve done everything humanly possible to disseminate that information to every person within our county–not to make a sweeping decision for everyone. I know the best for my son–who has survived three open heart surgeries. I’m the one who cleaned his incision and had to bring him home from the NICU. So I know best how to get him through something like COVID. Monkeypox really isn’t an issue for my children or for anyone’s children. It’s really isolated to men who are gay. I think another responsibility of public health is, to be honest, and upfront with what the statistics are so that people within the gay community can properly respond and protect themselves–in the case of monkeypox. However, moms in schools and children don’t really have a lot to worry about. There’s no need to keep people in fear just because we don’t want to isolate a community. We need to understand where things spread and are honest with information. I think that’s the number one thing that was done wrong and that I will do better. It’s also about gathering varied opinions and expertise. Having one doctor or one thought is not okay. I think we should have a diversity of thought with every decision. Regarding holding the line on our God-given rights, we have a thing called the Constitution. It’s the greatest playbook we’ve ever been given and when followed we’re always on the right side of things. Our founding fathers came here because they knew and believed that we could self-govern. I hold that to be true to this day. I think when given the opportunity, humans rise to the occasion–especially Americans. We are exceptional people, and I believe in people’s innate ability to adjust and survive and assess risks for themselves. I think it should always lie there, and our constitution agrees with me too. Just follow that playbook as all good quarterbacks follow their playbook and we’ll drive it to a win.
Garrit: How do you feel about private businesses, small businesses, and corporations instituting vaccine mandates for their employees or for their customers?
Lauren: I think it’s completely immoral. As a business owner, I would never want to feel the responsibility of having the unintended consequence of a mandate on our employees. For example, these vaccines are not without risk. By mandating a vaccine, I then assume, or should assume, the risk for that person. Therefore, if they have an adverse reaction, such as getting sick for two days like so many other people did, that’s on me. Therefore, I have to pay for them, and I have to care for them. I would have to bring them meals. I would have to assume their whole life. I think that’s immoral and not okay for a business or a corporation to do because there’s no way to properly take care of somebody or their family if something were to happen.
Garrit: How would you go about addressing that if your County Judge?
Lauren: I would very strongly make it very clear that mandates are unconstitutional at all levels and that businesses and corporations in Dallas County should not be signing up to do that. That is an improper role of private business and government.
Garrit: Another issue facing Dallas County–more specifically, the city of Dallas–is the rising crime rates. CBS reported back in June that Dallas has reached the highest murder rate in “recent memory.” You also shared a post by the Metroplex Civic and Business Association that reported homicide rates in Dallas doubled in June from the previous year compared to 2021. How would you go about addressing crime as County Judge?
Lauren: As county judges, we have leadership–not direct control–and influence over the Sheriff’s Department, the administration of our jails, and our court systems. What we have happening is a backlog of cases within our court systems. Our jails have failed inspections two years in a row. I’ve heard reports of inmates hanging themselves inside the jail and that the jails are filthy. People are going in and coming out worse than they went in. They say they’re going in with a Bachelor’s in crime and coming out with a Ph.D. in crime–that’s not sustainable. It’s highly fixable. It is a matter of the system’s running well. We need a justice system. We have a DA currently, who’s on the ticket in November as well, who has decriminalized every crime under $750. I think we’re finally seeing some of these horrific effects of a lawless society. Our jails are overcrowded; there’s like over 6000 in the population in jail. It’s just not sustainable numbers to be sending someone in and then releasing them worse. Then some people are getting released who shouldn’t be because there’s an overcrowding of the system. The whole thing is collapsing. It simply could just be put back together: people having swift justice, in and out as needed, and people getting their court day in a timely manner. Every dollar stolen is a crime–not anything under $750. We’d then see order restored. It’s a combination. If our courts are running well, our jails are clean and rehabilitating people, and we have a good DA like Faith Johnson–who’s on the ticket in November–then things will go back in harmony pretty quickly.
Garrit: You mention on your website “achieving Dallas County’s full potential.” You shared a post from Collin County Judge Chris Hill that provided census data that shows that Dallas County actually saw a decrease in its population of about 1.05%. Firstly, why do you think that is? Why do you think Dallas saw a decrease in its population compared to other counties in the area which have seen a lot of growth?
Lauren: Right? People have this “anywhere but Dallas County” mentality right now because it’s not safe. It doesn’t feel good here. Homelessness is on the rise and things are filthy. You just get this sense that it’s just not successful here. Dallas used to be a beacon of the Texas economy. In all these suburbs like in Collin County all the great restaurants and all the things that people used to come into our urban center for are going out there because businesses are fleeing so therefore people go. I think it’s just an overall combination of that.
Garrit: What are some specific policies that you would pursue as County Judge to help achieve Dallas County’s full potential?
Lauren: Two things. We constantly want to evaluate our politicians on these 123 promises. We’re addicted to the three promises of a politician. “Tell me these three exact things you’re going to do,” and I hesitate to do that because I’ve never been in this position before. I know there are things that we’ll find out there that I don’t know at this current moment. What I do know is that the county is a 6,000-person organization. It has an IT department, it has a human resources department, it is over our jails, it is over our elections, and it is over our public health system. I know that the county controls money and development, and it has a budget and evaluation office. It’s just one big organization. If all of our employees from within the jail to our county attorneys were empowered to achieve a vision to spread economic development all the way from every corner of Dallas County then we’d have people coming back in because they felt like it’s a place where they can grow, thrive, and start businesses. Clay Jenkins is just itching to shut down business again. As an entrepreneur and someone who has taken risks over and over again in their life, I don’t want to take a risk in Dallas County. My family went looking all around before we decided to stay here in Dallas County because, for a brief second, we thought maybe we will go to Collin County. I realized that Dallas was worth staying and fighting for. It just needs a leader that will stop giving favorable contracts to their buddies, stop stifling development in our south of downtown communities, and have a big vision for Dallas County. I think it’s possible, and I’ve heard over and over again of companies wanting to go into South Dallas. But our elected officials are saying that you have to do this or that for me. If you don’t, then you cannot have this contract. It adds all these backend expenses on projects that ultimately caused them to go somewhere else. If we want to know why Collin County, Tarrant County, Denton County, and every other county is growing, it is because our politicians are trying to get kickbacks for themselves or their friends, and people are going elsewhere because they can’t afford it. Corruption is unaffordable in Dallas County.
Garrit: Do you have anything else you’d like to say as we conclude the interview?
Lauren: I would love to appeal to parents, Republicans, and Democrats to remember that we are all more alike than we are different. We all ultimately want the same things. We just have different ideas on how to get there. I want to encourage everyone to return to the conversation. Let’s sit at the table together, let’s get back on the same mission, and talk about how to get there instead of allowing the media and the narrative to divide us. If we are divided, we will fall. We’re closer to it than ever. I’ve seen it in my personal life with friends. Don’t allow it to happen to you. Be disciplined and truly love your neighbor. We will get back on the right side of this. Even if we don’t agree on everything. We do not have to agree on everything, but we need to agree that we’re Americans and that it’s worth the conversation.