In the Seventh installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Fran Watson, candidate for the Texas State Senate, District 17.
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?
FW: Fran Watson
TL: Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
FW: No. I am a first-time candidate.
TL: As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?
FW: Government is important as it exists to provide protections from injustice and oppression for the community at large. This is done by implementing laws, policies, and accountability measures for actions or inactions of the residents.
TL: If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.
- Access to inclusive healthcare.
- Proper funding of public services, (state services, public education)
- Economic Empowerment for Disenfranchised Communities. (living wage, non-discrimination laws).
By working in coalition with members of both chambers who are already in Austin that have begun the work and developing a plan even before legislation is drafted. For instance, to provide access to healthcare, part of the solution already exists- Medicaid expansion. The more members aligned with ensuring billions of dollars are not left on the table and Texans are continuing to be uninsured, the more likely, Medicaid expansion in Texas can happen.
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.
FW: It is a multi-layered approach. While it is necessary to construct highways to relieve congestion, it is an expensive endeavor. Focusing on public transportation, including dedicated biking lanes. Additionally, working on a plan for affordable housing, as many people are having to move further out from work, school, and other daily endeavors, which puts a strain on Texas roads.
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?
FW: Rural areas make of a large part of District 17, and with access to inclusive healthcare and funding being one of my top priorities, having a plan to provide proper funding will be the first step to ensure the facilities not only stay open, but are not always in threat of closing. I plan to bring in advisers that can come up with innovative ways to provide long-term services to rural residents in addition to ideas such as telemedicine and mobile clinics.
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.
FW: My entire platform is about access. The decision to overturn net neutrality has the potential to shut down voices as it gives ISP the authority control content. As we’ve seen over the last few years, organizers and activists have been able to fight oppression and injustice using Social Media. Overturning Net Neutrality could once again attempt to mute the voices of the unheard. Therefore, I would support legislation to uphold Net Neutrality.
TL: What makes you the best candidate for this office?
FW: I am an attorney, intersectional activist, advocate, and community leader, and my approach to problem solving ensures that when elected I will be looking to hear from all constituents whose voices are missing from the conversation and how disenfranchised communities are impacted by current policies and proposed solutions.
I had an untraditional childhood. I grew up in poverty with a single mother who passed away early. When I lost my mother, in many ways, I inherited her role as caretaker. I was expelled from high school due to missing too many days and it took some time to get back on track to getting my GED and eventually graduating from law school. My past is a driving force for the work that I do and the communities I serve because I understand what it is like not to have access. And I use my skills, talent, and experience to work to ensure we all have equal access.
I have leadership experience. After serving less than a year on the board of a nonprofit that serves homeless youth, I was entrusted to be the president after its founding board member and first president resigned. I was elected the first black woman president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus after being a member of the organization within three years. I’ve served in leadership in several organizations in and around Houston. Through the many and varied experiences, I have been asked to speak on many panels and provide thoughtful leadership on a myriad of topics.
And I show up. I have been involved in various progressive causes. I lead when I need to lead and support when I need to support.
Finally, representation matters. The government should reflect the make-up of the people of Texas.
TL: When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
FW: Laughing with friends and family. Traveling. Reading.
Thanks to Ms. Watson 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 County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, and Galveston County.
For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.
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