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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

On The Record: Karen Guerra

For this episode of On The Record, we speak with Karen Guerra, the Democratic candidate for judge in the 16th District Court, Denton County.

What prompted you to run for public office?

As a trial attorney, I have tried cases in dozens of courts throughout the State of Texas. I know the importance that having judges who are knowledgeable of the law, fair and impartial and make prompt and well-reasoned decisions can have. I have also practiced appellate law, and I know how difficult it is to overturn poor judicial decisions.

I believe strongly that attorneys owe a duty to the community to take steps to improve the judicial system when need becomes apparent.

What would you say are the primary issues concerning your area?

District Court Judges in Denton County hear felony criminal cases, family cases, property cases and other civil cases. The citizens of Denton County want trial judges who will make decisions in these important cases based on the evidence and the law, without regard to special interests or personal bias. I will be such a judge.

In addition, we have a need for a drug court program in Denton County. Grant monies are available to establish a drug court program, and I am willing to give my time and energy to implement such a program.

In a drug court program, persons convicted of certain drug crimes are given terms of probation that include intensive court supervision. Such a program would have a positive impact on our community, not only by reducing the recidivism rate of crime, but also by improving the quality of life for families in Denton County that have been devastated by the drug usage of family members.

What are your qualifications for the position for which you are running?

I have been an attorney for over 18 years. I have handled nearly every type of case that comes before the District Court, including criminal matters, personal injury cases, contract disputes and property disputes. Most importantly, I have worked extensively with families.

I am certified as a specialist in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

I also have the balanced perspective that is so important for a judge. This is because I have handled all sides of these various cases – I have represented the State of Texas; I have also defended people accused of crime; and I have represented victims.

I have represented business owners and consumers, doctors and patients, the wealthy and the poor. I have represented mothers, fathers and children.

My undergraduate degree is in finance, and I attended Baylor Law School. After law school, my husband and I formed Guerra and Guerra law offices in McAllen, Texas, where I practiced both civil and criminal law. While living in McAllen, we also formed Lawtalk, Inc., a company that provided mediation services and training programs for attorneys and other professionals throughout the State.

In 1996, I accepted a position as the Managing Attorney for the Attorney General’s child support office in Corpus Christi, Texas. From 1999 to 2001, I served as a staff attorney for the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas.

I lived and worked in Denton County since 2001 and accepted a position with Hammerle Finley law offices in Denton and Lewisville.

In July 2004, I opened my private practice in Carrollton, Texas.

How do politics affect your family?

My husband is my most avid supporter, and he is very excited about the political process. Unfortunately, he is also the person most adversely affected by my decision to run for office. He was accustomed to having me at home with him in the evenings. Because he has multiple sclerosis, he is not able to attend many of the political events and misses me.

For the most part, however, the impact on my family has been positive. All of my family members, including my husband, son, parents and siblings, have been very enthusiastic and helpful. Involvement with my campaign has inspired them and made them realize how important and worthwhile public service can be.

Who are the important political figures that inspired you to become active in politics?

John F. Kennedy is the most notable political figure that has inspired me to public service, and I am frequently reminded of his speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

As a young girl, I was inspired by President Andrew Jackson. Although he may not have been our greatest president, he was a common person who ran a grass roots campaign. As a child, Andrew Jackson was considered a model to prove that a person does not need wealth to succeed, and that with determination and fortitude, I could accomplish any goal.

The quote of the eighteenth century thinker and politician Edmund Burke wrote, "All that is necessary for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing," and it inspires me.

What is your biggest hope for Texas?

I want my grandchildren and all children in Texas to enjoy happy and healthy futures, with economic security, clean air and a stimulating education.

My biggest hope for Texas is for the citizens of this state to take more pro-active measures to help make this happen. This will require us all to expect more of our public officials, to spend less time watching TV and playing on the computer, and spend more time becoming involved in our communities.

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