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Leticia Van de Putte’s Lite Guv Bid Assures One Outcome: She will be heard

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: Photo by Mary Tuma, License: N/A

Photo by Mary Tuma

State sen. Leticia Van de Putte announced her bid for Texas lieutenant governor at San Antonio College in November

Van de Putte paused, collected her thoughts, and continued, “I got a call from [Chief of Staff] Gilbert [Loredo] who said, ‘I hate to bother you, but they just called the second point of order on Davis and I think they’re gonna get her.’ I thought maybe if she saw me, if I was just there, she could get some strength.”

But when she arrived, a stunned Van de Putte was met with what she considers intentional disregard from Senate leadership.

“I realized they turned off my mic—the press could hear me, the gallery could hear me and the president of the chamber [state Sen. Robert Duncan] at the time was calling on [state] Sen. [Dan] Patrick ahead of me,” she said. “I could not get recognized, so when I finally did, what came out of my mouth was pure frustration; it was me being enraged.”

“And it resonated because they weren’t listening to any of us, they weren’t listening to women, they weren’t listening to doctors, and when thousands of women showed up to testify during the committee hearings they weren’t given the opportunity to voice their concerns.”

Now, in an act of political poetic justice, the woman who refused to be silenced will try to either unseat and replace the man who presided over the body that tried so hard to silence her, or will go head to head with the man whose voice trampled her own, though in either case she’ll face an uphill battle.

Calling SA Home

Though born on a military base in Tacoma, Wash., Van de Putte calls San Antonio home. A sixth-generation Texan, she grew up and still lives on the city’s West Side; for the last 30 years, her family has occupied the same house off Zarzamora Street and Mulberry, a block and a half from her childhood home. The oldest of five siblings in a Roman Catholic household, Van de Putte (whose maiden name is San Miguel) was constantly surrounded by family; her grandparents resided just three blocks away and cousins lived nearby. The San Miguels, she said, “ran in a pack” at school.

She describes her upbringing as a “loving, bustling environment” and reflects fondly on her childhood. But it wasn’t all easy living for the San Miguels. Though not impoverished, by no means were they well off, said Van de Putte. Her grandfather’s barter system kept fresh fruits and vegetables stocked in the fridge, but at times electricity was shut off due to expense—Van de Putte would turn those moments into a game of “camp out” to appease and distract her younger siblings.

Van de Putte also remembers when racial divisions separated the city. She recounted getting suspended as a third grader for three days for speaking Spanish on the school playground—an offense at the time. (If she had been male, the punishment could have resulted in a whipping.) In the ’50s and ’60s, Van de Putte witnessed the transition to integration and her mother, seeking to teach her eldest child that race shouldn’t be a factor in judging character, placed her in a young Girl Scouts troop, one of the few integrated organizations at the time. (They didn’t teach “little Barbie girls,” said Van de Putte, who picked up scuba diving, spelunking and HAMM radio operation as a scout.)

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