Media and Press
Mary Tuma - Austin Chronicle - May 4, 2018
For Cole, HD 46 runs deeper than an election: It's a mission to continue the legacy of black representation in the district. Should she lose, an African-American voice for Austin will be lost at the Capitol. Of the six Travis County seats in the Legislature, only HD 46 is held by a black person. "I can't walk into a church and not hear about it," said Cole, underscoring the pressure. "The thought of losing an African-American seat to represent Central Texas by such an alleged progressive city, it would be devastating." ...
A fifth-generation Texan, Cole says her ancestors served as slaves to Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred settlers. Growing up in Wichita Falls amid modest means, she started cleaning the homes of mostly wealthy, white families with her mother and grandmother at age 7. She attended UT on scholarship, graduating in 1986 with an accounting degree. After two years of work she decided to enter UT law school, completing her degree in 1991. From 1994 to 2000 she worked for the Texas Municipal League, testifying at the Capitol to defend the rights of cities, an experience she says makes her uniquely qualified to tackle the barrage of state-led attacks on city government. And she's no stranger to civic engagement, having sat on boards like Planned Parenthood and the Urban League.
Of course, Cole is most recognized for her eight years of service at City Council. As mayor pro tem, she helped spur a $65 million affordable housing bond package, which passed with 60% of the vote in 2013, and she spearheaded the Waller Creek revitalization. She prides herself on passing a 2012 resolution to support marriage equality, the first of its kind in Texas. "That was an issue that was very controversial in the African-American community at that time, but I stood up for it because it was the right thing to do," she said. She was also instrumental in pushing back against Council's 2010 decision not to settle a wrongful death suit after Austin police fatally shot black teenager Nathaniel Sanders II. (Council eventually voted for a $750,000 settlement to his family the following year.) "I was making calls all around this city," she said. "This was before Black Lives Matter, before the Austin Justice Coalition."
If elected, Cole will focus on school finance and education, and work to strengthen and revise pension plans. She's a proponent of stricter gun control, such as preventing firearm sales to people who have been identified as dangerous to themselves or others by mental health providers, and raising the minimum age for gun purchases. Expanded funding for community policing and mental health care are also on her agenda. Like Vela, she's adamantly for the expansion of Medicaid and the legalization of marijuana, with tax revenue flowing toward education, infrastructure, and health care. Perhaps her strongest edge is her decade of valuable knowledge about local governmental policy. She said she's "fought against the erosion of local control and unfunded mandates for years. I can't wait to get over there and defend the tree ordinance that I worked on." ...
She calls this current race the "hardest" she's ever been in, in part because of efforts to shed the shadow of Dukes, with whom some voters have confused her. "I'm not Dawnna!" she said, exasperated. "But I feel like I'm getting the negative spillover."
Another contributing factor to the race's difficulty in Cole's eyes is the sexist language attributed to her by both media and community. While Vela is often described as a "tough fighter," she's routinely labeled as "quiet and compromising" – characteristics she says do not provide for the full picture.
"I'm a black woman who has been cleaning toilets since she was 7 years old," Cole said. "I've been fighting my whole damn life – and I will fight hard for this seat. I didn't get here being weak. I got here with dogged determination and the love for the least among us."
Asher Price - Austin American-Statesman - Apr. 9, 2018
[Sheryl] could be tough — and exercise some political muscle. She pushed hard, for example, on police matters involving excessive force in ways that put her at odds with the city’s powerful police union. After the Austin City Council initially declined, in 2010, to settle a wrongful death suit in the police shooting of Nathaniel Sanders II, Cole successfully campaigned for a challenger to one of the council members who opposed a settlement. The new council then authorized a $750,000 payment to Sanders’ family.
Her public service has earned wide praise from Austin’s heavy-hitting Democratic stalwarts: U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, state Sen. Kirk Watson, former state Rep. Wilhelmina Delco, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, as well as Austin’s two previous mayors, Black Austin Democrats, labor unions, Annie’s List are all listed as supporters.
Cole deserves to win because she “knows the district very well and is the most qualified,” said Nelson Linder, head of the Austin chapter of the NAACP. “She has all the experience, she works for everybody and has the right disposition.”
“She’s very professional, she’s very steady, she’s not reactionary,” he elaborated.
Like other African-Americans interviewed, he said it’s important to have a black Austin voice in the Legislature — but said Cole should get the job because of her experience and qualifications.
Donna Carter, an architect who describes herself as a “rabid progressive” and who has donated to Cole’s campaign, said that “in today’s political climate where discourse has been downgraded, where coalitions are not easily built, we’re going to need people who can work across the aisle.”
“She is not partisan for the sake of being partisan — that’s something missing at the Legislature,” said [former City Council chief of Staff for Cole, Stephanie] McDonald, who is now chief of staff at Central Health. “She’s an attorney and accountant by training. She’s pretty practical and pragmatic. That pragmatism is important for trying to work for both sides of any legislative body.”
“I think she understands fragility of everyday existence: She wants to make sure every day is a big day and we’re getting done important stuff. The Legislature needs that kind of can-do attitude,” she said.
Alberta Phillips - Austin American-Statesman - Apr. 5, 2018
The importance of having an experienced, competent African-American voice in the Travis County Democratic delegation... cannot be overstated, especially when the Legislature meets again in 2019. Then, it will be dealing with women’s health and reproductive rights, criminal justice reform, gay rights and public education – all areas Cole cut her teeth on and successfully steered through the City Council.
Her work is recognized by Planned Parenthood, whose political arm, Planned Parenthood Votes, endorsed Cole in recent weeks, saying her voice and courage in the fight for women’s health care are “needed in the Texas Legislature now more than ever.”
Edgar Walters - Texas Tribune - Feb. 28, 2018
...Cole bills herself as a more inclusive candidate who has advocated for a more diverse group of Austinites.
Cole, who has the backing of state Sen. Kirk Watson, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, sat down with The Texas Tribune on Saturday after delivering a brief speech at a march hosted by local labor groups.
Asked if she agreed with the establishment label, Cole said she was “not beholden to anyone” and that her progressive credentials were not up for debate.
“An establishment candidate who leads and passes ban-the-box” — an Austin ordinance that prevents employers from asking job applicants about criminal history — “the first marriage equality bill in the state, deals with every officer-involved shooting within the last 10 years and ensures their proper settlement, and cameras on [police] cars, and changes in the grievance system — that’s one hell of an establishment candidate,” she said.
Ross Ramsey - Texas Tribune - Feb. 19, 2018
Tony Cantu - Patch - Feb. 13, 2018
AUSTIN, TX — Former Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole has garnered the coveted endorsement of Annie's List, an influential political organization promoting the election of progressive women to statewide office.
Cole, who also served as Austin mayor pro tem during her time on council, is running for state representative for House District 46.
"Sheryl is committed tofight for more financing and better resources for public education, making healthcare and housing more affordable, reproductive rights and defending civil rights," Annie's List Executive Director Patsy Woods Martin said in a prepared statement. "She has been courageous and unafraid in speaking out for these causes, and to protect the most vulnerable, which is in alignment with our mission. We are thrilled to support her in this race and look forward to the changes she will help usher in serving as a Texas state representative."
The Annie's List nod comes a week after Cole secured another high-profile endorsement from Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt: "I am proud to endorse Sheryl Cole for State Representative in House District 46," the judge said in a prepared statement. "Sheryl Cole will bring her laser focus to the Texas House to ensure that the people of District 46 get their fair share of the opportunity they helped build."
Ryan Autullo - Austin American-Statesman - Feb. 6, 2018
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt is siding against longtime state Rep. Dawnna Dukes in the Democratic primary, announcing Tuesday an endorsement for Dukes’ challenger Sheryl Cole.
Eckhardt, who presides over the county’s Commissioner’s Court, released a statement through Cole’s campaign, saying residents of Dukes’ House District 46 “deserve to share in the prosperity of our region.” Dukes for 24 years has represented the district that includes parts of East Austin, Pflugerville and Manor.
Eckhardt’s endorsement comes one month before the March 6 Democratic primary. In addition to Cole, those looking to unseat Dukes are Jose “Chito” Vela III, Ana Cortez, Casey L. McKinney and Warren Baker.
“Taken as a whole, Travis County households enjoy higher income, higher education and the benefits that have established Austin and Central Texas as among the top places to live in the U.S.” Eckhardt said. “Yet the hard-working families of District 46 earn less, more of its residents live in poverty and fewer achieve higher education than even the national average. Sheryl Cole will bring her laser focus to the Texas House to ensure that the people of District 46 get their fair share of the opportunity they helped build.”
Cole previously received endorsements from Austin Democrats state Sen. Kirk Watson and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett.
Ashley Goudeau - KVUE - Feb. 4, 2018
Attorney and former City of Austin Mayor Pro-Tem Sheryl Cole has filed to run for State Representative in District 46. She sits down with Ashley Goudeau to discuss her campaign.
Ryan Autullo - Austin American-Statesman - Jan. 16, 2018
Former Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole has emerged as the biggest Democratic primary threat to beleaguered state Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ 12-term tenure representing House District 46.
“I’m humbled by the broad base of community support,” Cole said. “It shows what Austin values — the need to be present and represent the district and our entire region and state.”
Robert W. Gee - Austin American-Statesman - Dec. 12, 2017
Six-way race for Dawnna Dukes’ seat: State Rep. Dukes, D-Austin, found new political life after the Travis County district attorney dropped corruption charges against her. That hasn’t stopped five Democrats, including former Austin City Council Member Sheryl Cole, from lining up to challenge her.
Sean Collins Walsh - Austin American-Statesman - Jan. 10, 2017
Former Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, who is hoping to replace state Rep. Dawnna Dukes in the Legislature, does not appear to be backing down from her plans despite Dukes’ last-minute decision to renege on a promise to step down when the Legislature reconvenes on Tuesday.
Cole, a Democrat, on Tuesday released her fundraising totals and a list of high-profile endorsements and is holding a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve received overwhelming support in a short period of time. It’s a sign, that has been shared with me time and again, of the community’s strong desire for a fresh start. We will stand united in the face of attacks on our children’s education, equality of opportunity, and our civil liberties,” Cole said in a statement.
Cassi Pollock - Daily Texan - Nov. 7, 2016
Sheryl Cole, the first African-American woman elected to the Austin City Council in 2006, plans to run for the House District 46 seat...
A University alumnae, Cole also received a degree in accounting before attending the University’s law school in 1989.
Cole said she has received an outpour of encouragement to run for the seat and added she planned to make a public announcement soon after Election Day.
“I would be very honored to represent the people,” Cole said.