From the creation of legislative single-member districts for Tarrant County more than 35 years ago, District 90 was designed as a minority-opportunity seat in the House of Representatives.
But except for the first four years, the district has been represented — and represented well — by Anglo legislators, including incumbent Lon Burnam who is in his ninth term in the Texas Legislature.
Burnam’s challenger in the Democratic primary this year, businessman Ramon Romero, thinks he can be a more effective voice for the mostly inner-city areas that make up District 90, including Worth Heights, Polytechnic Heights, Como, Edgewood and parts of Oakhurst.
Romero, who has lived his entire life in Poly and located his tile and stone businesses and a restaurant in the area, notes that he doesn’t want to be a representative only for Hispanics (who make up 76 percent of the 85 percent-minority district), and is counting on a “tri-ethnic coalition” to get elected.
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He has an impressive background of community service, having served on the Fort Worth planning and zoning commissions. Romero, who wants to bring more jobs and economic deveopment to the area, also ran for City Council in 2012, losing in a runoff by only 78 votes.
But Burnam’s experience, and his current status as a “dean” of the Tarrant County delegation, gives him the edge in the race.
Although known as a maverick much of his tenure, Burnam has been a fighter for the issues he thinks count most for a district that has the most uninsured people of any in Tarrant County, and where 60 percent of the residents have incomes below the poverty line.
Since October, his office has helped organize 17 workshops on the Affordable Care Act. And, in his efforts to mitigate the effects of a new voter ID law in Texas, he worked with Tarrant County Commissioner Roy C. Brooks to get a new driver’s license office in southeast Fort Worth, the first inside Loop 820.
Burnam has long been a champion of more funding for public education, a supporter of better public transit and an advocate on environmental and conservation issues. And in recent years he has partnered with Republican leaders in the House on civil liberties matters in particular.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Lon Burnam for State Representative District 90.