By Tina Rulewicz
In reference to leadership, Harris County Democratic Party (HCDP) Chair Lane Lewis maintains, “[I]t’s a difficult thing leading people, it’s a difficult thing.” And yet, such positions have providentially found Lewis throughout his career. From social work to Marketing Director for “Partners in Recovery” to Executive Director of the Aids Equity League (AEL), even at a young age, Lane Lewis possessed the attributes associated with true leadership: genuine intent; integrity; focus; organization; and, follow-through.
Influenced by Ray Hill and Annise Parker, Lewis became integrated in politics and served as Youth Constituent Leader for Stonewall 25 and then as Director of the “Direct Action Working Group” for the same cause. Additionally, he held a position on the board of the Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus in Houston and served one term as President of the Caucus.
Then, Lewis took a break from Politics. During this time period, he finished his Bachelor’s Degree and also received a Masters Degree in Education. But, Harris County and Texas needed Lane Lewis. His involvement in helping overturn the insidious and antiquated State sodomy law 21.06 inspired his inevitable return to the political arena.
In 2009, Lewis ran for and lost an extremely close race for City Councilman. He organized and ran a savvy campaign and very much may have won if it wasn’t for a last minute desperate negative mail ad run by his opponent’s supporters attacking him for being gay. Undeterred, Lewis was soon after elected Chair of Senate District 15.
Last month, Lane Lewis was re-elected as Harris County Democratic Party Chair. Venomous attacks on his homosexuality soiled the campaign and in response, Lewis says, “I stayed out of it. I stayed on message and it worked.” Both classy and impressive, the better and more appropriate candidate won. And now, his goal as HCDP Chair focuses on involvement from precinct chairs, elected officials, and constituents. In order to elevate the party profile, all must work together.
Lane Lewis daily serves the people he represents, whether he’s speaking to a group of people or looking for ways to bring people together for projects. In order to bring everyone together and move forward and make Harris County a true Democratic force, Lewis says it best, “[W]e have to start moving away from identity politics and moving towards advocacy politics. In other words, I’m not involved because I’m interested in gay issues. I’m not involved because I’m interested in black issues. I’m not involved because I’m interested in Latino issues. I’m involved because I care about education; I care about health care, immigration, the environment. Those are advocacy issues.”
These are the words of a true leader.