Lana was raised in Irving, Texas, a community outside of the heart of Dallas. Growing up, her father’s conservative approach to politics influenced her eventual outlook on her career and political development. A World War II Marine veteran and officer in the Naval Reserve, her father taught his three daughters that “with a good education and hard work they could achieve the American dream.” Lana believes the love and support of her parents gave her a firm foundation that allowed her to accomplish her goals.
Lana earned her undergraduate degree magna cum laude and Juris Doctor from Baylor University, and worked as an Assistant District Attorney for Dallas County for eleven years before she officially stepped foot into the political arena. Lana’s first involvement in a campaign was in the early ‘80s when she assisted then Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade’s campaign for re-election. Knocking on doors and handing out campaign brochures, she experienced first-hand the campaign trail.
In 1993, while serving as a Chief Felony Prosecutor in the Dallas County District Attorney’s office, Lana decided to run for office. Interestingly, Lana was encouraged to run by an opposing criminal defense lawyer who thought she would successfully serve as a judge; after looking into the requirements, Lana realized that she was qualified for the role. She felt that this opportunity presented itself in the best way since she had no prior personal experience in politics. She resigned her position as an Assistant District Attorney, began working as a solo criminal practitioner, and started networking with politically inclined friends who introduced her to the campaigning process once more. She also relied on the support of the Irving Republican Women’s Club and, in later campaigns, the Golden Corridor Republican Women’s Club, and RED Texas Forum. Lana learned that she truly enjoyed connecting with other members of her community.
Lana won her first campaign for office where she was elected to the 203rd Judicial District Court in Dallas County in 1994. She served as presiding judge of that court for nearly fifteen years. Now, Lana serves as a Justice for the 5th District Court of Appeals, Place 4 which serves a six-county area: Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, and Rockwall. She was appointed to this court in December 2009 by then Governor Rick Perry and was elected in 2010 to a six-year term. Lana was re-elected to a second term in 2016, giving her almost 24 years of experience as an elected official. Overall, Lana described the appointment and election processes as very political and challenging.
The 5th District Court of Appeals is the largest of fourteen intermediate state appellate courts in Texas. Lana believes that the greatest issue facing her court is the large caseload. She says, “it is challenging as a Justice on this court to get all of the opinions out before the end of the term – work is constant.” Her strong work ethic has served her well as she handles the important work of this court.
Lana advises women interested in running for office to exemplify their own personal qualities rather than attacking an opponent. She says, “be yourself and understand that, generally, the voters are just tired of negative campaigns.” Lana believes that candidates should exude their own credibility and explain why their qualifications and experiences are essential to that particular office.
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