In addition to her brother Moises, she is survived by her mother, another brother, Victor, and a sister, Gabby. Her father died in 2014.
Neither of her parents went to college, and it was important to them that their children received a good education. All four siblings graduated from college; Lillian received a degree in political science from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2002.
Rather than go directly to law school, she spent several years teaching middle school science in El Paso. “The kids just flocked to her, because she had this no-holds-barred personality,” said Christina Klaes, a fellow teacher and friend.
Ms. Blancas left teaching in 2006 and graduated three years later from the Texas Tech University School of Law. She quickly joined the El Paso district attorney’s office. It was part of her plan: gain experience as a prosecutor, switch to being a public defender, hang out her own shingle and run for a judicial seat.
As a public defender, she handled capital murder cases, and defended poor, often very young clients, said Heather Hall, a lawyer in the public defender’s office. In her spare time, Ms. Blancas mentored lawyers who wanted to work with clients who were indigent or had mental-health issues.
“Lila had this silver tongue as a lawyer,” said Amanda Enriquez, a lawyer and friend, “but she was full of empathy and compassion.”
Ms. Blancas tested positive for Covid on Halloween; three days later, she won 40 percent of the vote in the election, sending her and Mr. Holguin to a runoff. The disease kept her from actively campaigning. She entered the hospital twice before being sent to intensive care, where she died.