Former Baylor law professor announces candidacy for Texas District 56 representative

Erin Shank announced her candidacy for the District 56 House seat in the Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday. Photo by Erin Shank for Texas House

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

Erin Shank, who taught in the Baylor Law School for over 10 years and owns a bankruptcy law firm in Waco, announced her candidacy for the District 56 House seat in the Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday.

District 56 includes McLennan County, housing 176,727 people. Shank will run against incumbent Charles “Doc” Anderson, who has served as the representative since 2004.

Shank said the statewide freeze that caused the state electrical grid to fail largely led to her decision to run for election.

“I have always been interested in politics — I have two degrees in political science and journalism and a law degree, so I’m very involved in politics, especially at the local level — but it was the ice storm that killed two of my clients,” Shank said. “They were warned 10 years ago that the grid would fail and be a catastrophic failure and you need to winterize it, and they didn’t, and that’s where I said, ‘We deserve better.’”

Shank has been practicing bankruptcy law for 40 years in Texas. Her firm, Central Texas Bankruptcy, now follows a “touch-free” method in response to the global pandemic, according to its website.

Shank will run as a Democratic candidate while Anderson will run as a Republican candidate in the 2021 race.

“I want to go down there and not force a very left agenda, but just come right in the middle and get to some common sense stuff if we think about this stuff together,” Shank said.

Shank said she will begin her campaign with a listening tour during the holidays — when she will travel across the county listening to individuals’ concerns — and will then begin her field tour in January.

“I am a Democrat, but I am not weighted to the party,” Shank said. “If something is better for McLennan County this way than that way, I am going to vote for what’s best for McLennan County.”

Additionally, Shank graduated from The University of Texas at Austin LBJ Women’s Campaign School on Nov. 13 and launched her campaign on Nov. 15.

“I would encourage many more women to do this because I think we need women in politics, especially moms,” Shank said. “There’s so many issues that affect families and children, and I’m doing this for this next generation. We need to live in a better place.”

Shreveport, La., junior Veronica Bonifacio Penales serves on Shank’s campaign staff and is a student activist. Penales said she believes voters must begin to think of the direction they want representatives to take.

“Doc Anderson has served for the last 14 years as Texas District 56 representative, yet everything he has successfully completed out of his last seven campaigns worth of promises could easily amount to only one term’s work — and that’s stretching it,” Penales said. “The question voters need to ask themselves: Are steps forward really steps in the right direction when the path is so obviously a circle?”

Shank said she wants young people to know how important this election is and to look at it with an open mind.

“Let’s stop this propensity that university kids have of being classified as non-voters,” Shank said. “I would urge voters to look — not just pull a party lever — but put the lever for the most qualified candidate.”