Honorable Lynne Finley: Meeting the call to serve others
Honorable Lynne Finley was elected as the Collin County District Clerk in 2016, following in the footsteps of her mother, former Texas House Representative Barbara Nash; her uncle, former Mansfield City Councilmember; and her brother, Tarrant County District Court Judge, John Chupp. Even though she now serves in public office, Finley never thought she would run for political office when she was younger. She knew that running for office would put her family, including her three children, under intense scrutiny and require time and attention away from family. However, when Finley learned of a vacancy for the District Clerk position in December of 2015, she immediately jumped to the opportunity. Finley knew it was her calling – to serve others.
Finley was born in Fort Worth but moved to Arlington, Texas when she was five years old. From there, Finley completed her primary education in Arlington ISD, where her mother became extremely involved in the school district as a regular “room mom” and campus PTA President. Finley’s mom started to expand her impact, making her presence across Arlington known. Her mother eventually served on both the Arlington ISD School Board and Arlington City Council. Finley distinctly remembers concerned citizens calling the house, asking about a variety of improvements or complaints that they had; As a college student, Finley always wondered why her mother seemed to enjoy helping and answering the constant calls and complaints related to the city. Finley realized that while she felt the job seemed “thankless”, her mother felt blessed to be involved and serve her community. Eventually, Finley’s mother, Barbara Nash, was asked to run for the chance to become the representative of TX-HD93, or Texas House District 93. At the age of 63, Finley’s mother ran for office and won, transforming her title to Representative Nash. Finley reveres her mother as her greatest role model, citing that her mother accomplished the greatest of feats, though, never graduated from a formal higher education institution. With the inspirational push of her matriarchal role model, Finley became the first person in her family to attend college and law school. She leaned on her family for support when attending higher education institutions, though, she was navigating uncharted waters. Upon graduating from law school, Finley utilized her legal education to become a corporate lawyer. She regularly advocated for legislative tort reform and protections for healthcare care providers in Austin. Then, in 2016, Finley learned that there was a vacancy for the Collin County District Clerk position. Though initially being weary of bringing her family into the limelight of politics, Finley decided she would interview for an appointment to the position since she was qualified to serve. After interviewing, Finley lost the appointment to a different candidate. She reached out to her brother, a judge in Tarrant County, for advice – he inspired Finley to continuing fighting for the position, when he said, “if you want that office, you go run for it. It isn’t anybody’s to give, it’s for the people to elect.” In response, Finley filed with the Collin County GOP and challenged the appointed position. During her campaign for office, Finley relied on the support of her husband and family. She also regularly reached out to district clerks in other counties for advice and shadowing opportunities to gain a better idea of the responsibilities entitled to a County District Clerk. Finley won the Republican primary for the position in March 2016 and being unopposed in the General Election, was appointed early to the office in May of 2016 as the Collin County District Clerk. As the District Clerk of Collin County, Finley serves a population of almost 1 million individuals, and counting. Collin County, the 6th largest county in the State of Texas, encompasses 27 cities and towns. Finley believes the biggest obstacle Collin County is currently facing is an influx of population growth. The population of Collin County is predicted to reach 3.5 million individuals over the next 15 years. Finley does not see this growth as a negative occurrence – she sees it as an opportunity for Collin County to expand their technological opportunities. New technology will begin moving into the Collin County region, allowing corporations to relocate to the area with the promise of labor. Finley wants to figure out how to better serve the growing population as the county’s District Clerk. Finley does not feel like she has personally experienced gender-based discrimination in politics – yet. Collin County holds a unique quality not commonly seen in other Texas counties – as a high percentage of its elected offices are held by women. Women tip the parity scale in a variety of positions; six out of eleven District Court Judges are women and two of the four county commissioners are women. Finley encourages other women to go out and run for office themselves. She recommends that women interested in running for office should first research the position they are interested in and what responsibilities are associated with that office. Finley commonly compares politics to parenting, saying “you can never really understand what it is to be a parent until you become one and you won’t really know what it’s like to be a candidate until you get out there and run.”