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On The Record: Russell Langley

Grace Stevens's picture

For this episode of On The Record, we speak with Russell Langley, an attorney and political consultant.

How did you get started in politics? Did you come to it in your youth or later on?

I got started with College Democrats and student government programs when I was at Texas A&M. I worked on several local campaigns and enjoyed the process and the people that I met. That eventually led to a career in politics.

My parents were teachers during Gov. White’s education reforms in the 1980’s, so I understood very early on that the decisions made in Austin could have a very real, local impact.

How do state politics affect your neighborhood?

I live in North Dallas, and there are two big issues that I see that affect my neighborhood.

First, transportation is a huge issue. Our gridlocked freeways can make driving on the weekends mean finding you in a traffic jam. The Republican leadership’s failure in Austin to support expanding DART has made that worse.

Secondly, Republicans’ failure to pass meaningful tax reform has meant that the burden of very high property taxes is affecting where people buy homes and their ability to stay in them — driving young families and seniors on limited incomes to live in far suburbs, even though they may work downtown.

Do you have any ambition for office? Do you have plans to run for any party office, or possibly even public office?

I cannot see a circumstance in the next five years that would lead me to run for office.

Who are some of your political heroes?

Ann Richards inspired me to become a Democrat. Congressman Jim Turner demonstrated what a difference someone can make when they are smart and dedicated to truly serving their constituents.

Finally, I admire and respect FDR and LBJ, because the work they did continues to benefit and improve the lives of Americans every day.

What would you say has been the single most defining moment in your political life?

The defining moment for me was taking a job for then State Senator Jim Turner’s Campaign for Congress in 1996. I took a semester out of law school to do the campaign, and those six months were an invaluable education in electoral politics. Turner was elected to Congress that year, and the campaign paved the way for me to work professionally in politics.

What are you looking forward to in the coming cycle?

I am looking forward to having many good candidates to support! We have a real shot at taking back the Texas House this year and making gains in the Texas Senate — not to mention winning back the White House. It is going to be an exciting year.

What would you say the political breakdown of your family is? Is it mostly Democratic or are you somewhat unique?

My family is socially conservative, but apolitical. I was absolutely ‘somewhat unique’ in my interest in politics, particularly in progressive, Democratic politics.

What advice would you give to young people just getting into politics?

Save money, and do not go into credit card debt. Open an IRA or 401(k) in your early 20s and put money in it. Generally, pay attention to your personal finances.

What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned in politics?

To focus on achieving your goals and look at the big picture. In politics, there are always plenty of opportunities to be distracted and pulled off-course by situations and/or people that ultimately will not help you win your campaign. Staying focused on the good work you are doing allows you to move forward with confidence.

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