Angela Tucker decided she wanted to be a lawyer in the third grade. A Sherman, Texas, native, Tucker got a five-year scholarship to The University of Texas at Austin and earned her degree in just three-and-a-half years. She then went to law school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Her first job out of law school brought her to the Collin County District Attorney’s Office. Later on, she opened up her own private practice for 12 years.
In 2012, Tucker transitioned to public service as a judge for the 199th District Court in Collin County becoming the first Black judge to hold the position.
What made Tucker turn her sights to becoming a judge after wanting to be a lawyer her entire life? She told moderator Adrienne Trimble, Collin County Businesses Alliance Board Member, that a group of her female colleagues and other women on the bench told her to go for it.
Tucker discussed her journey of running for office during a videotaped interview as part of the Collin County Votes initiative of the Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA). In partnership with Local Profile, the series seeks to raise awareness and participation in local elections.
Tucker said, “No Way. I’ll write a check for somebody else, I'll hold a sign for somebody else, but not me... And then I started to see individuals running for office [and thought] ‘Is this really somebody that I would want to practice in front of? Is this someone that I think should be on the bench? And the answer was no.”
How She Got Started
When deciding to run for the 199th District Court in Collin County, Tucker said she relied first and foremost on prayer.
“When everyone was encouraging me, I still took the time to say, ‘Let me just seek God's counsel on this to see if this is the route I really need to take, if this is what I really need to do,’” Tucker said. “So, for me, running for office, this particular position, was a faith walk.”
But she also had to get the blessing of her family. As a mom, she was worried about the household falling apart when she was out campaigning or doing town halls six out of seven nights a week. After a family meeting, however, she got the support and encouragement she needed to move forward.
She then turned to her mentor, who helped her see the importance of assembling her campaign’s inner circle with those that she trusted with her life.
When it came to fundraising, Tucker said she struggled to raise money for her campaign at first for two reasons — not wanting to ask for money and her law colleagues being afraid to donate against her opponent’s campaign. She was running against the retiring judge’s son.
She had to get over the hurdle of being afraid to ask and ultimately turned to other people and places to raise money for her campaign, such as her church, school, family, community leaders and business organizations.
“For women, I think it's really hard for us to ask for money,” Tucker said. “And you see that in corporate America as well — it’s hard for women to go in and ask for a raise.”
Being a Woman of Color in Politics
Tucker said one of the hardest parts of campaigning is trying to market yourself to voters.
“I'm very hard on myself,” Tucker said. “And I set very high standards for myself.”
When she reflects on the work she has done for Collin County, such as keeping her promise to the community to get through every single case handed to her, she’s most proud of herself for “opening up the world of possibilities for people that look like me.”
“I didn't see a female in my hometown that was an attorney until I was in law school and went back to intern, and certainly not a person of color,” Tucker said. “And so now when we can have summer interns come up, and they are every race, creed, color, gender, [and] they can see someone that looks like them on the bench, I think that is so beneficial because it's representation.”
Tucker hopes her position as a judge will show everyone that just because the majority of people in the political sphere don’t look like her, they deserve a seat at the table.
“When they look at me — young kids, law students, whoever it is — I want them to say, ‘If she can do it, I can do it, too,’” Tucker said.