Rep. Vikki Goodwin says raising kids prepared her for the Texas Legislature. This is how she leads Texas.
By Anna Lassmann
Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, joined the Texas House of Representatives in January as a political freshman. While she can turn to her fellow House women, her real preparation for the job comes from her years as a longtime campaign volunteer and a mother of three biological children and two stepchildren. This is how she leads Texas.
Her mornings: “I try to get [to the Capitol]early because of traffic. I leave my house no later than 7 a.m. if I can help it. That way, while I do have some traffic that I sit in…it’s not quite as bad. So, I’m usually here at the Capitol by 8 a.m., sometimes earlier.”
Her time as a campaign volunteer: “Well, I have helped other candidates over the years doing volunteer work in their campaigns, and I just got to a point where I felt like we needed somebody really strong on the public-education issue to run in this district, and we needed somebody who knows the district really well. My business is real estate and I have sold homes throughout all the [neighborhoods] within the district and so, I have a pretty good feel for what the people in each of the neighborhoods are interested in, what’s important to them. So, I felt like this was the right time for me to run for this position.”
Her own campaign: “When I first got into it, I talked to the candidate who had run previously. When we sat down together, she still hadn’t made up her mind whether she was going to run again or not, and she said, ‘It’s good if there are two people who run in a primary because then you get more attention,’…and it turned out that she didn’t run in the primary but four other people did. It ended up being a very busy primary. It really didn’t go negative, which was a very nice thing. I felt like all of us got to know one another and really, we had different positions on some issues, but we were still respectful to one another and I felt like we didn’t have the negativity that so often people think of when they think about political campaigns. Really, even the general election wasn’t any more negative than I thought it would be.”
Her female political support: “I think women bring a different perspective. I think because we are in the minority, we tend to support one another even more. [All of the women legislators] have been meeting on a regular basis. Right now, just the Democratic women are meeting together just to support one another, to share ideas, to share experiences. Being freshmen, we have a lot of questions, so those who have been around the Capitol a lot longer are giving us advice and suggestions and just helping us deal with everything that’s so new to us. It’s been great.”
Her Capitol excitement: “One of the most exciting things is that my colleague Erin Zwiener, who won her election in Hays County, has a baby. So, she’s brought her baby down to the House floor. She sits in the desk in front of me and then her office is right next door to mine, so that’s kind of exciting. I don’t have any grandkids and my kids are all grown, so it’s really wonderful to have a baby nearby and just to see her as she’s growing. It’s really cool. I can hear her crying when she’s in the office next door sometimes.”
Her preparation for political stress: “I think raising kids has prepared me for that because there’s oftentimes stress when your kids are growing up. It’s always best to take a deep breath and give yourself a minute when things get heated and just remember what the ultimate goal is and keep your focus on that and remaining calm and professional. That will lead to the best results, as opposed to allowing yourself to get angry and explode at a situation. I’ve just learned over the years that sometimes you just have to take a step back and take a deep breath and know that everything will work out in the end.”
Her love of yoga: “I try to fit in yoga every day. I think that the meditation helps in a stressful position; it just allows you to decompress. I also enjoy hiking. There’s lots of wonderful parks in and around Austin where I can get out, see nature, take a hike and do that with my husband.”