By Ruth Ann Ruiz
The Post Newspaper Features Editor
Born and raised in Galveston, Keith Henry is stepping up and waving the flag for the Democratic party in Texas State Legislative District 23, which encompasses much of Galveston County. Henry is the Democratic candidate for this November’s election.
Henry has felt a calling to be in politics since third grade. “When we studied Texas government, I thought maybe someday I’d like to be the governor of Texas,” he said. His first venture into an elected office is the one he is vacating, which is as city commissioner for Texas City.
“I know if you want things to improve it happens through legislation,” explained Henry. In his growing up years, he saw a lot that needed improvement.
At nighttime, he would sneak out of his public housing neighborhood and run to the beach. “I would just sit there and picture what my future would be with a wife and kids. I just knew my life was going to be much different,” said Henry.
His childhood neighborhood was near Courville Stadium, and it wasn’t the best place for him and his twin brother to spend their youth.
“One time my brother and I were outside and my mom saw two guys making a drug deal. She went out there and told them, ‘You better never sell drugs in front of my babies again. They looked at her and said “yes, ma’am,’” as Henry recalled the pivotal moment in his neighborhood.
The Henry twins’ mother went a step further: she invited the dealers into their home for dinner. “My mom told us she didn’t judge them because they didn’t have a mother or father to make sure they had food and they need to eat,” explained Henry.
“After that, my brother and I were never bothered by the dealers in the neighborhood,” Henry commented.
He attended school during the era of drive-by shooting drills. What did he do to cope with the danger in his neighborhood? He read books, lots of books. “I was literally the book nerd and all I would do is go be by myself and read books,” said Henry.
Henry was more than a book nerd, he was also a star athlete. His athletic skills earned him a track scholarship for his college years far away from his island home. He attended State University of New York College at Buffalo State College for his undergraduate degree in English and Journalism.
With one degree finished, he was back home working for a non-profit and someone said to him, “you need to go to graduate school,” explained Henry. He followed the advice and completed a master’s in public administration from Texas Southern University in 2012.
His career took him to Austin where he worked for a decade in various roles for the federal government. Then he headed south to the Houston-Galveston area and took a job in teaching. “I wanted to spend more time with my family and teaching allowed this for me,” said Henry.
He and his bride Dioene have three children including 10-year-old twins. Their 13-year-old daughter is following in Henry’s footsteps as a track star. “Nothing compares to being able to ttrain my daughter in track and go to the twins events,” said Henry.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Henry have worked as special education teachers. Mr. Henry spent one year as department head for Houston Independent School District’s special needs students. Mrs. Henry currently teaches in the Pasadena school district.
Leaving behind his temporary foray into education, Henry has pursued his campaign for the legislative seat vacated by Mayes Middleton.
“My number one goal is to be a voice for all constituents, it’s not a stump speech. I believe my responsibility will be to come up with the best solutions possible through discourse and negotiations. We won’t all be able to get what we want. My job is not to be partisan. My job will be to serve all the people,” said Henry.
If elected, he would work towards changes in how property tax values are assessed. “Mass property tax appraisals need to be eradicated. I would work to see each property be individually assessed every other year which would more accurately reflect the value of the property,” said Henry.
He has put his own money into the campaign and his family is behind him with each step he takes. “I am very proud of my husband, he spends all day every day working for the community. He is so passionate and dedicated to serving the people,” said Dioene Henry.
His three children share their father’s enthusiasm. Even Sassy, the newest family member with four legs, enjoys jumping into the campaign excitement.
The family enjoys living near the ocean and spend their vacations just over the causeway for weekend staycations. They also travel throughout the state for their children’s athletic events.