A Democrat has thrown her hat in the ring for the District 62 seat in the Texas House of Representatives being left up for grabs when longtime Rep. Larry Phillips announced he would not seek another term.

Valerie Hefner, a 2000 graduate of Sherman High School, said watching the last two sessions down in Austin made her want to step up and get involved.

“I have been waiting around for someone else to get up and do it,” she said of filing as a Democrat. “There should be two choices.”

Hefner said she wants people to know that those who speak up in Austin don’t necessarily speak for people in North Texas, especially for things like the bathroom bill.

“That affects my family on a personal level,” Hefner said. “I have two children who are a part of the LGBT community.”

She said she felt helpless when trying to advocate for those children left her with nothing to do but call up politician’s offices and have her opinion tallied along with everyone else’s.

“In this district particularly, I think there are a lot of people who are not represented in Austin,” Hefner said. “We have a large LGBT community that stays under the radar out of fear, and I don’t think that is necessary. I would like somebody to step up and say this area is not as close minded as you would think.”

Hefner works as an executive at a medical supply company and said this is her first time running for office. She said she has spent a lot of time with local Democrats and felt like someone needed to represent the party on the ballot with regard to important issues such as health care.

“That’s a bid deal for our area,” Hefner said. “Grayson County has a lot of kids and elderly that depend on the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

She said she would also like to see more attention focused on veterans and their needs.

“My husband (Daniel Fox Jr.) is a disabled vet,” Hefner said. “The quality of care that he received is terrible.”

The Republican and Democratic primary elections will be held on March 6. Hefner is the only Democrat to file for the seat so far, while the Republican primary currently has Van Alstyne electrical engineer Brent Lawson, Grayson County Republican Chairman Reggie Smith and former city of Sherman City Council member Kevin Couch as candidates

Phillips announced last month he will not be seeking re-election to the District 62 seat. His term is set to expire in early 2019. Phillips, who has represented Grayson County and Fannin County since 2003 and Delta County since 2013, is chairman of the lower chamber’s Insurance Committee and is a former chairman of the Transportation Committee, Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.

District 62 is comprised of Grayson, Fannin and Delta counties. The last day to file for the March 6, 2018 primary race is Dec. 11.