UT law professor Heather Way loses race for HD 49 seat, vows to continue fight

Rund Khayyat

UT law professor and House District 49 candidate Heather Way hosted a watch party to see votes roll in for the Super Tuesday election results. She ultimately lost to Gina Hinojosa, an Austin Independent School District board member, receiving 19 percent of the votes to Hinojosa’s 55 percent.

 “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to run this campaign and reach out to people all around the community and learn about their issues,” Way said. “I will continue to be a fighter for the people in these communities and to be their biggest advocate.”

 Way’s platform focused on affordable housing and economic equality. UT law alumna Stephanie Trinh said when she was a student she worked in Way’s Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, which focuses on supporting and improving low-income communities.

 “I owe everything to her,” Trinh said. “She became my role model because she’s dedicated her entire career to supporting and working for low-income families. She has the ability to go all in and be a dedicated advocate, which has been her career choice for her whole life.”

 Trinh said Way sought the candidacy so she could continue to fight for these issues.  

 “She is in it for the long haul,” Trinh said. “She has no political motivation; she just wants to effect good change for families.”

 Way also pushed for gun-free classrooms and women’s reproductive rights. Glo Villarreal, a UT alumna and Way’s campaign fundraiser, said she endorsed Way because she chose an academic career, becoming a staunch advocate for these issues, instead of working for a high-paying law firm.

 “I admire that she’s been able to have everything — a career, become a leader in the community, a family, a PTA mom,” Villarreal said.  “As women, we’re told we can’t have it all, but she’s been able to balance it all very well.”

The group was hoping for a run-off because it is difficult to receive 50 percent of the votes — the requirement to win the nomination — if there are seven candidates running, Villarreal said.

“Either way, I will still work to pass policies at the Capitol, fighting for the people and not for the special interest groups,” Way said.  “I’m feeling so much affection and joy from all the support I’ve received from people all across the district who shared my vision and priorities.”