When the Texas Legislature convenes again in January 2021, State Rep. Anna Eastman will not have the ability to introduce a bill or vote at the capitol building in Austin. She lost a Democratic primary runoff in mid-July to Penny Morales Shaw, who will face Republican Lui La Rotta in November’s general election.
But Eastman, a Heights resident who in January was elected to complete the term of former State Rep. Jessica Farrar, will remain in office through the end of this year. She said she plans to spend that time meeting the needs of her constituents in District 148, which includes North and Northwest Houston.
Eastman said she and her chief of staff, Marisol Valero, are “committed to serving the district through the rest of the calendar year.” Eastman said she is especially focused on ensuring that area schoolchildren have access to quality instruction, and that school districts have access to federal CARES Act funding, as the region continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and educational leaders weigh their options in terms of remote online learning and traditional in-person instruction.
“I continue to serve on an education policy working group with the House Democratic Caucus,” said Eastman, a former Houston ISD trustee.
On her campaign Facebook page, Eastman outlined in English and Spanish a list of 20 constituent services that she invited District 148 residents contact her about. The resources are related to childcare, healthcare, consumer and business issues, programs for both crime victims and those who have been incarcerated, and issues related to environmental quality and transportation.
Eastman said she also could help residents in need obtain food stamps. She said she’s been working with the Houston Food Bank and other community partners to deliver food to home-bound citizens.
“Helping you to navigate and reach state agencies is one of the most important services my office can offer you,” Eastman wrote on her campaign page. “We do not have the power to determine the outcome of the case, but we will make sure that you are heard and that your case receives the proper attention.”
While she will not have lawmaking power during the next Texas Legislature, Eastman said she could serve as a facilitator leading up to next year’s session. So she invited District 148 residents – including those in the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest – to reach out to her about potential legislative changes.
For example, a group of residents in both Garden Oaks and Oak Forest are attempting to remove racist language in their longstanding deed restrictions. Both sets of restrictions include unenforceable provisions that say only members of the “Caucasian race” can own property or reside in the adjacent neighborhoods.
Amending the deed restrictions entails navigating an exhaustive and complicated process, which could potentially be made easier by a statewide law.
“I am also available to discuss any potential legislation with constituents who have a specific issue they would like to see addressed during session,” Eastman said, “(including) the ability to change unconstitutional, racist language in deed restrictions desired by Garden Oaks and Oak Forest.”