Alumni root for diversity in legal system
The UH College Democrats recently hosted Sen. John Whitmire and a candidate for the 113th Civil Court, Steven Kirkland, at the University Center North to discuss their campaigns and advocate a goal to mirror UH’s diverse population.
“We have got to get more diversity into the courthouse,” Whitmire said.
Whitmire and Kirkland attended UH for their law degrees before pursuing political careers. According to UH’s Institutional Research, 21.4 percent of UH students are Hispanic, 18 percent are Asian-American and 11.7 percent are interracial.
Both candidates said they believe in a system that fights for diversity and hope to see equality for same-sex couples, more assistance for middle- to low-class families and more minority representation among judges.
“When you go to the courthouse and you’re a Spanish-speaking defendant with a judge speaking your language with your background, that has got to make a difference,” Whitmire said, who has been serving in the Texas House of Representatives for 10 years and represents the 15th Senatorial District.
Kirkland began his political career through the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement and said he sees that with the 2008 presidential elections, more judges of minority backgrounds are stepping up and running for positions.
“We doubled the number of African-American judges sitting at the bench. We doubled the number of Hispanic judges sitting at the bench, and we elected the first-ever South Asian judge,” Kirkland said.
Whitmore and Kirkland will be on the Democratic ballot for the primary election on March 4.
Vice president of UH College Democrats Tatiana Lutomski works to promote the organization and organize events where guest speakers can share their knowledge and experience.
“There are 40,000 or more students at UH, and I’m sure plenty are Democrats,” she said. “We’ve posted flyers and sent emails, hoping to reach out to those students that aren’t aware of our organization.”