TLCQ 2018: Vanessa Edwards Foster

In the Thirteenth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Vanessa Edwards Foster,  candidate for U.S. House, Texas’ 27th District.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.


TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

VF:  Vanessa Edwards Foster

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

VF:  Unless you count being elected as a precinct chair, NO.  I’ve never been employed in the public sector.

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

VF:  Government is, essentially, the public trust.  Its goal is to provide for the common good by creating, in deliberative fashion, rules and structure that will successfully maintain the security, the commerce and the well-being for every one of its citizens.  It should also be vigilant to ensure that these rules are neither exploited by those in elected office acting as agents for outside interests for profit, power or both, nor that these rules are bent or changed to punitively impact one segment of society at the behest of another in order to uphold the well-being of society overall.  We must also be vigilant to the potential of forces abroad attempting to externally manipulate and undermine our system of government and act to cease those efforts any time we discover them.  Government was created, and should remain, by and for all citizens of this nation.

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

VF:  Funding and pushing for groundbreaking on infrastructure needs throughout this nation — we’re desperately too far behind on this issue.  Ensuring protection of social security, Medicare, Medicaid and moving to seek Medicare for all in order to stop the healthcare calamity which is nearly bankrupting us.  Finding a solution to address the wage gap and the wealth gap in America.

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

VF:  Obviously funding.  Beyond that, we need a transportation department with vision to set aside current open space via planned future eminent domain and begin negotiating with landowners way before the project in those areas to find an equitable agreement to have said tracts set aside with that future growth in mind.  Additionally, smart-growth options such as rail or subway options and right-of-way development for bicycle trails is strongly needed.  Preparing for the eventuality of autonomous (or self-driving) vehicles as well as vastly increasing development of charging stations (and the necessary electrical grid to power those) for hybrid vehicles is also a necessary goal to keep pace with the advancing technologies.

TL:  Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?  

VF:  This is a difficult problem to tackle.  There’s a number of factors at play here: population decrease in small-town America, funding to keep these hospitals in business and enticements to reopen or entice new ownership to move in and continue the facility.  While it’s crucial to have healthcare facilities within a reasonable drive of county residents, the small populations in sparse areas, coupled with population decline in many of these communities makes it unlikely that some of these closures can be reversed or prevented.  The benchmark for hospital feasibility is that the region have a population of around 40,000.  Another factor that contributes to this is Obamacare — in particular the states that refused to expand Medicaid to cover for it (Texas being one), leaving many residents still uninsured.  As such, hospitals in those non-expanded states bled red ink until they could no longer keep their doors open.  Enticing new hospital owners to come in and fill that gap will be key, but won’t be an easy fix as Trump’s Tax Cut just sliced over $1 trillion in Medicaid from the budgets over the next decade.  This might be solved by expanding Medicare to cover all citizens, but that will take time.  My suggestion would perhaps involve an incentive for non-profit university hospital systems (e.g. UTMB, Baylor College of Medicine, etc.) to move in and take over as satellite teaching facilities for their student and interns.  Beyond that, I honestly don’t have a solid answer to this problem.

TL:  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.

VF:  Net neutrality should NOT be overturned.  The internet was originally created by the government and funded by taxpayers, and has since remained part of the public domain.  Giving away the internet to profiteering corporations is absolutely wrong.  It’s especially alarming that this will essentially kill internet for many in isolated rural areas of the country where only small, local providers prevail — small providers who will easily be locked out of the market by the huge corporations.

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

VF:  My campaign is quite similar to Bernie Sanders in that I do everything with people power and will only accept campaign contributions from individuals, and I’ve been told I may need to reconsider at least one PAC (Act Blue Veterans).  However, I will not accept contributions from corporations, from special interests or from most all PAC’s.  Represent the people — not special interests.

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

VF:  Listening to my albums (I have an extensive collection of LP’s), or occasionally noodling around on my guitar.


Thanks to Ms. Foster for the responses.


Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery County, and Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)


#FreeDennis: Austin High School Students Protest ICE Detention of Senior


Frequently portrayed in the media, “Immigration Reform”, “Dreamers” and “DACA” can often seem like rather remote concepts, especially for those that follow the news from Washington.  For over a decade, Congress has been perpetuating  loop of partisan stalling tactics, party line bickering and a series of flat out refusals to address the issues.  We’re to the point now where some Democrats in the United States Senate consider it a win to even “hold a debate” on the issue.

But for cities like Houston, the consequences of the Federal Government’s horseplay are creating earthquakes across large segments of our community.  The fear of deportation is inescapable, and the consequences of when loved ones are ripped from their communities do not end with the next day’s news cycle.

Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento is a Senior at HISD’s Austin High School, just months from graduation.  Here’s what happened to him, directly from the United We Dream petition

On Tuesday, January 30th, after he was repeatedly bullied by his classmates, he decided to defend himself. Things escalated and he found himself in an altercation with one of the bullies.  Instead of de-escalating the situation, and guiding Dennis and his classmate in reconciliation, HISD’s troubling protocol allowed HISD Police Department to arrest Dennis on charges of assault, which the District Attorney immediately filed against him. Within hours he was transferred to Harris County Jail where an ICE hold was placed on him for being undocumented.

Students go to school for education, and they should feel safe while they’re there. They shouldn’t have to fear that they’ll be disciplined by police – or worse end up in detention or deported.

Dennis was eligible for, and paid, a $2,000 bond, but instead of being released to his family, the Sheriff’s Department handed him over to ICE. This is because the Sheriff’s Department has a policy to work closely with ICE by sharing information, allowing them to interrogate individuals in the jail, and to pick them up before they leave the jail. Because Dennis was not given any information about his rights, the information he shared about himself alerted ICE of his presence at the jail. This ongoing collaboration between the Sheriff’s Department and ICE is just a way to increase mass deportations locally.

A high school Senior at Austin High School, Dennis was accepted to both Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Lamar University, and plans to study computer science. If deported, Dennis will be sent back to Honduras, a place of extreme violence and insecurity. And he will not be able to graduate in May or attend college in the Fall of 2019.

The outrageous reality is that too many systems have failed Dennis and many other immigrant youth. HISD failed Dennis by letting police officers decide that incarceration is the solution to bullying. The District Attorney’s office failed Dennis by using their discretion to charge and prosecute Dennis, and to file a second case against him for forfeiting his bond, which was of no fault of his own because he went into ICE custody. The Sheriff’s Department failed Dennis by obtaining information from him that was shared with ICE and then allowed ICE to arrest him from the jail.

So today during their lunch period, the students of Austin High School decided to take a public stance in solidarity with one of their own.  Video from KPRC Local 2 News Reporter Rose-Ann Aragon captures the protest, as students overtake the street adjacent to their school.

Lest we forget, this is Houston, under the jurisdiction of Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who allegedly ended automatic cooperation with the ICE officials (a program known as 287(g)) within months of assuming office in 2017.  If you recall, ending the program was a central tenet of Sheriff Gonzalez’s campaign platform, due in part to the fact that Harris County jails are already too overcrowded that they should not be housing non-violent offenders.

Umm, Sheriff… is that practice over?  After all the talk about ending 287(g), is it still in effect??

The story is still developing, but one thing is for sure.  The Immigration “debate” is anything but remote for Houstonians.


Texoblogosphere: Week of February 12th

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds everyone that early voting for the primaries begins next week as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff emphasizes that the bathroom bill issue isn’t going away any time soon.

Stace provides some insight on the latest voter registration data from Harris County.

Socratic Gadfly notes that various activist groups can’t get on the same endorsements page.

Neil at All People Have Value said it is okay not to give money to the rich. APHV is part of

For all the press and hype which surrounds the leading Democratic candidates for Governor, Texas Leftist continues to wonder when the actual FUNDRAISING will show up. Less than a month from the primary, it’s past time to make some money moves!!


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

G. Elliott Morris interprets the state of the polls.

Durrel Douglas finds lessons from the Astros for Democrats.

Juanita would like to know when Rep. Blake Farenthold is going to pay us taxpayers back for that sexual harassment settlement money.

Paradise in Hell collects a list of things Mike Pence was surprised to learn.

The TSTA Blog casts a wary eye on the latest anti-education campaign from Empower Texans.


Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!!