Texas House freshmen Vikki Goodwin, Julie Johnson look back at their time at the University of Texas

Katie Balevic

State Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, never thought she would be a legislator, but her concern for public education persuaded her otherwise. 

“I didn’t think I would run for office because I’m not the most outgoing person,” Goodwin said. “But … I feel passionately about public education and putting money toward that, so I decided I just needed to run for office.”

Goodwin was inspired from watching her mother work on the Dallas ISD school board to improve urban schools.

“The large urban schools tend to get a bad reputation, and she wanted to change that,” Goodwin said. “I considered being on the school board, but I felt like they needed more support in the Legislature.” 

Goodwin graduated from UT with a business administration degree and went on to earn her master’s from the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Her advice to students is to join organizations and take leadership roles. 

“Every student should find a group of like-minded students and get involved,” Goodwin said. “One thing will lead to another, and you might end up running for office yourself.” 

While Goodwin was unsure about running for office, state Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Dallas, was inspired to run after a class she took at UT. 

“In one of my government classes, we got to come (to the Texas Capitol) and play legislator on the House floor,” Johnson said. “I’ve always remembered that, and to be able to now be a member of the House is so cool. It’s a full circle moment.” 

Johnson said she ran for office because she wanted to see more women in positions of political power in Texas. 

“I was very frustrated with the current state of politics in our state and nation, and I felt like women needed to stand up,” Johnson said. “We needed more voices, and I thought I could be one of those voices.” 

Although she has been fundraising for presidential candidates since 2000, Johnson said she was still nervous when it was her turn to be on the ballot. 

“It’s scary and inviting and exciting all at the same time to wonder what is it going to be like and are people going to want to vote for me,” Johnson said. “You have to go seize opportunities where you can. I had an opportunity to run for this seat, and I jumped in.”


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