Category Archives: Texas Politics

TLCQ 2018: Levy Q. Barnes Jr.

In the Twelfth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Levy Q. Barnes Jr.,  candidate for the U.S. House, Texas’ 14th Congressional 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?

LB:  Dr. Levy Q. Barnes, Jr.

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

LB:  no

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

LB:  Philosophers like Aristotle and Confucius thought of Politics as a means to keep people protected and that they can have a happier lives. I agree with that form of thinking. Government is important so that citizens have equal opportunities to succeed. Government is also important because it unites people of common interests and goals. Through it we are able to protect our country through military efforts, provide assistance for disadvantaged citizens, beautify our nation, and continually have citizens advance. Through our government we can ensure that equality is properly dispersed so that our citizens can have the pursuit of happiness.

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

LB:

As the next US Representative of my district, I plan on accomplishing several things which are my top priorities. I plan on creating an incentive plan for educators who go to Title 1 schools and other schools in economically challenged areas. The educators are the key to improving our educational system. Securing proper funding to compensate qualified Educators is important to make sure we don’t have Educators fleeing that Industry.

The second thing I plan on accomplishing is creating a tax plan for businesses to move to or be started in economically challenged cities so that we can assist the distribution of wealth across our nation. A lot of these economically challenged cities do not have job opportunities for their citizens. There are other cities that do have job opportunities but they are mostly minimum wage job opportunities. I want to see the minimum wage increase, but in the event that we are unable to accomplish this I would like to have a reward system in place for businesses that pay their base employees above minimum wage.

The third thing I wish to accomplish in office is putting legislation in place to protect more minorities. There is still a large amount of Injustice in our country and it is based around our Criminal Justice System, employment, and treatment of our local citizens. I do not plan on excluding this just to minorities but also people of different economical social classes, ages, and genders. Protecting those who cannot protect themselves is important and it is the reason why we are the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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.

LB:  As a Texas resident it is burdensome to have dilapidated roads and narrow freeways in highly populated areas. This slows the level of production. In other populated areas in Texas there are no sidewalks. This is dangerous for our children. A lot of these issues are handled on a city and state level but I feel that it is necessary for certain cities with a certain population to have sidewalks for children. It is also important that as cities plan to grow they also plan to expand their highways and Roads. Transportation is also very important. In areas that are immensely populated having a more advanced transportation system is necessary to see the continued flow of the city. An example of this is Houston Texas. With the population that is there, having an expanded public transit system is important. So there is a lot of work that needs to be done regarding our infrastructure and 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?  

LB:  Having an efficient amount of hospitals is very important to rural. Not having enough poses a threat to the lives of citizens who can’t reach a medical facility in time. Having incentives for medical providers to move their practices to rule communities and ensuring that the citizens in these areas have health coverage will help prevent the closure of more hospitals. In most cases, when a hospital closes? they are looking at either the lack of tenants to rent spaces or a quota of patients coming to the hospital. If there are no doctors coming to that area opening practices, then the hospital will not be able to provide spaces to them. Also if people in that area do not have health coverage they would shy away from going to Medical providers, thus increasing the amounts of death due to health issues. There are several incentive programs out there for Physicians to go to rural areas like the one that pays off student loans for medical providers going to rural cities. Having incentives in place like this for medical providers to go to these rural communities can ensure that the citizens have quality healthcare providers and promotes the growth  of hospitals. Also having adequate healthcare for Citizens will ensure that hospitals in these areas can keep their quotas up.

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.

LB:  I plan on upholding Net neutrality. Coming from my perspective as an internet user and others that I interact with, it is a public service utility. It is important for people to have equal access to this.

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

LB:  I am the candidate who has experience with a diversity of fields and people. As a business owner I have worked with hundreds of businesses and I understand important needs for businesses to thrive and employees to be properly compensated. I have also worked as an educator in Title 1 schools and I know the needs that our students have in failing schools to guarantee them an equal opportunity for top-notch education.

I am a candidate for the people. As a humanitarian, civil rights and peace activist, and preacher my interest have been for the greater good of people. I’ve spent countless hours in community service for seniors and lower income families. I have experience with the mentally ill and have gone to volunteer in prisons. I am the candidate that will have compassion on our people and push agendas that will benefit them succeeding in life. What is needed in the perfect candidate is diversity . Even when people look at my campaign team it consists of all nationalities and multiple backgrounds including Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Muslim Americans, Caucasian Americans, and Latino Americans. The reason why is because is because I am American and I want to represent Americans of all ethnic backgrounds to ensure that we all will succeed and Rise together!

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

LB:  Besides spending time with my campaign and my business, I love to spend time with my two sons and my wife. With the free time that we all have we like to go to volunteer senior citizen facilities, cook for families in need, and holding Ministry services. We always like to take on projects to stimulate the activity in our rural community as well. We have a car club group that raises money for families who can’t afford to bury their deceased loved ones. We also have a television show that inspires people to believe in miracles. So in summary we like to inspire others with our free time.

 

Thanks to Dr. Barnes 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!!)

 

TLCQ 2018: Tami Walker

In the Eleventh installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Tami Walker,  candidate for the U.S. House, Texas’ 10th Congressional 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?

TW:  Tami Walker

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

TW:  No

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

TW:  Government should serve the people.  Government should work to improve the lives of its constituents and provide needed services and order.  The Constitution states that the functions are to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for a common defense, to promote the general welfare and to secure the blessings of liberty.  Our current government seems to have lost sight of all of this and seems only motivated to serve corporate donors and special interest. I would like to give the power back to the people.

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

TW:

(1)Affordable and accessible for all–I believe we should adopt a single payer Medicare System.  If that has to be phased in, we should stabilize the ACA and then work toward a single payer system. I would support negotiated prices on imported prescription drugs to reduce costs.  We should protect Medicaid programs serving vulnerable children, adults with special needs and the elderly and we should fund Planned Parenthood to make reproductive care more accessible.  Mental health and addiction should be treated as any other health problem and we should fund mental health and addiction treatment facilities. I would support legislation to save rural hospitals and emergency services.

(2) Bringing power back to the people with voting rights reform and campaign finance reform–I would enact campaign finance reform to prevent corporations and special interests from buying elections and influencing the votes of lawmakers. I support federal legislation to prevent the disenfranchisement of minority voters. I support automatic voter registration when obtaining a state issued ID, adequate polling locations, expansion of early voting and the prevention of the purging of voter rolls immediately prior to elections. I support non-partisan redistricting commissions in all states and measures to prevent cyber interference in elections.

(3) Climate Change.  The Clean Power Plan should be implemented. The plan is focused on reducing emissions from coal burning power plants, and increasing the use of renewable energy and conservation. We should rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Congress should provide tax incentivizes for carbon capture, use, and storage.   Infrastructure investments can reduce emissions and improve resilience to climate impacts. Congress should fund international programs to help other countries reduce carbon emissions.  The U.S. should also implement a carbon fee and dividend program, with an international trade component to incentivize climate friendly consumer choices.

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.

TW:  We should implement a comprehensive infrastructure plan to invest in clean energy, rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and dams, upgrade airports, build flood control and sea walls, add light rail in cities to address traffic issues, and build internet to rural areas.  We should create tax incentives to encourage companies to: manufacture in America; develop products and jobs of the future through research and technology; lessen their carbon footprint; and develop and utilize more clean energy, such as wind and solar.  There is currently too much emphasis on privatization, which limits projects that are not big “money makers” like rural bridges.  This should be done for public safety and for job growth.

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?  

TW:  I would support the Save Rural Hospitals Act HR 2957, make federal grants available to rural hospitals and extend loan forgiveness programs to health care workers willing to serve for a period of time in rural hospitals.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2957

HR 2957 increases payments to, and modifies various requirements regarding, rural health care providers under the Medicare program. Among other provisions, the bill: (1) reverses cuts to reimbursement of bad debt for critical access hospitals and rural hospitals and extends payment levels for low-volume hospitals and Medicare-dependent hospitals.

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.

TW:  It was a terrible decision that will allow internet service providers to charge more for certain content or block certain content.  I would absolutely support legislation to preserve net neutrality.  We need a free and open internet.

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

TW:  I have 28 years of legal experience in different industries related to energy and infrastructure, including gas transmission, telecommunications, transportation, wind farm development and engineering. I’ve worked in a lot of different regulatory frameworks with state and federal agencies. This will enable me to work across the aisle for practical solutions.  I have been a working mother and understand the needs of working families.  I understand the inequalities that still exist in the workplace.  This district has three distinct segments (Austin, Houston and rural Texas).  I grew up in another area of rural Texas; I lived in Austin for 18 years and the Houston area for 14 years. I can relate to all three populations.  I am passionate about change and I’m willing to do the work implement policies that transform Texas and Congress for the better.

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

TW:  I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, entertaining in my home, and reading books.  I am also very active with some political groups in the Katy area and enjoy spending time with those friends.

 

Thanks to Ms.  Walker 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!!)

TLCQ 2018: Brian E. Cronin

In the Tenth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Brian Cronin,  candidate for the Texas State Senate, District 5.

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?

BC:  Brian E. Cronin

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

BC:  Williamson Country Democratic Precinct Chair

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

BC:  Many Americans do not participate in the political process because they feel that their participation will not make a difference in an election, or they feel that the government is corrupted beyond help.  I can understand their frustration.  There is much to do to bring back the integrity of these offices, particularly in Texas.  However, it is important to remember that the government has an influence on nearly every facet of American life, including roads and utilities, education, healthcare and family planning. I believe we need representatives that will fairly represent all people in Texas and make decisions that benefit the greater good. It is too important to not invest time and energy into who is making the decisions that affects so much of our lives.

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

BC:

(1) Invest in public education.  I understand that funding public education is the right thing to do. Public education helps provide life-long opportunities, financial freedoms, and equal footing to all families. Public education also creates stronger communities as our children become adults investing back in their local economy.

Currently, Texas ranks 43rd in school quality and 49th in high school diploma rates, all the while per-student education spending by the Texas Legislature is declining. I believe we must leverage Texas’ vast resources to invest in our kids and the future of the people our District.

A strong education system will build a 21st century, skilled workforce to drive the future economy in Texas and attract businesses as they see our community provides the right skills locally to succeed.

(2) Ensure quality healthcare.  Access to quality health care is the cornerstone of healthy and thriving communities. We must take care of Texans, including our seniors who can no longer work, our lower income kids and families struggling to make ends meet, disabled persons and those with chronic or terminal medical conditions, and all women seeking healthcare.

Currently, Texas has more uninsured residents—over 4.5 million—than any other state, and the highest percentage of uninsured citizens in the country. We also have the highest rate of Maternal Mortality in the developed world. Yet the Texas Legislature declines over $8 Billion dollars per year in Federal Health Care support, which means this money is diverted to other states for their health services.

I believe we need to change this and bring that money here to care for Texans. We also need to look closely at the health care needs of our District and push for that funding to be allocated in ways that keep our community healthy and safe.

(3) Create opportunities.  I believe Texas can build the strongest, most innovative, and capable workforce on the planet. We have diverse, hard-working people in every corner of our District.

To do this, we need to work with K-12 schools, community colleges, and higher education universities along with small and big businesses to build a pipeline of training and education programs that will help our youth today become the high-performers of tomorrow.

At the same time, I believe we need to create job systems to retrain people leaving industries and careers affected by automation and offshoring and prepare those individuals to quickly take on new careers. For example, we need a system that helps single parents in our District obtain the professional development they need and that supports retirees who want to pursue a second career.

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.

BC:  Reducing traffic and increasing mobility is a critical issue facing our area. As your representative, I will be focused on building better roads and modernizing Public Transportation with increased clean-fuel buses; additional commuter train lines, and investments in high speed Rail. This will take cars off the road and help bring all people in our community to opportunity: schools, jobs and local businesses — including restaurants and entertainment. Great transportation is not only a priority for residents but mobility from airports to venues and urban areas is the cornerstone of tourism and a better economy. Linking Texas’ cities and towns will also help to improve the standard of living and create new jobs.

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?  

BC:  The Texas legislature has been declining a sorely-needed $8 billion in Federal health care aid. It is a moral failure on their part to play with Texans’ lives for politics’ sake. We need to take care of our most vulnerable citizens by increasing Texas’ investment in Medicare and Medicaid, as well as using the money that is available to us to support rural hospitals and clinics.

The legislature has also inserted itself into women’s healthcare and found a way to close half of the clinics that provided  breast cancer screenings, gynecological examinations, and access to birth control and health services. This affected rural towns the most, leaving many low-income women without local clinics for vital care. I would oppose legislation that punishes women for political purposes.

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.

BC:  The decision to eliminate net neutrality protections was a travesty for a free and open internet for all. All Americans should have equal access to what the internet has to offer, without discrimination.  I support net neutrality protections on all levels.

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

BC: My combination of personal, education, and professional experiences have given me a true passion for serving as a Texas State Senator. I understand that people and communities thrive when our government is unified and operates effective education, health, infrastructure, workforce, justice, and revenue systems. On a personal note, when I was in elementary school, my mom and dad owned a small family restaurant, which suddenly had to close its doors creating a difficult financial situation for them. My parents, who were hard working and loving, began to realize that putting food on the table and keeping their home was becoming increasingly difficult without an income. During this period, my parents had to turn to government aid for a short time. Through this support and through my parents hard work, my family got back on its feet and recovered the business. But I still remember the reassurance this most basic level of assistance brought to me during that tough time. I want to make sure people across Texas have this same support if ever in a time of need.

After childhood, I earned two advanced degrees, including a doctorate, focusing on Industrial and Organizational Research. For the nearly 20 years since, I have worked to make government agencies more effective as a national expert in workforce and organization development. Through my professional work, I have learned the importance of making sound decisions to improve public initiatives while maintaining efficient use of government resources. Over my career, I have led more than 50 government projects with organizations such as the Texas Governor’s office, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Department of Family Services, Department of Correction, Departments of Transportation, the US Department of Labor, the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Department of Agriculture, and scores of other state and federal agencies. In short, I understand how to work with government leaders, congressional committees, and stakeholders to get results.

I look forward to serving the people of this great community and the State of Texas.

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

BC:  I have a strong and beautiful wife of 14 years, Candace, and four sweet children. I have also enjoyed serving as a foster parent and feel blessed to be an adoptive parent, coach for my kids in YMCA sports, and resident of District 5 in the great state of Texas.

 

Thanks to Mr. Cronin 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!!)

Democratic Gubernatorial Race Sees Anemic Fundraising

For all the horrors that Democrats saw in the fallout from the 2016 Election, 2017 and 2018 have offered plenty of reasons for optimism.  With a new crop of candidates, tons of energy around organizing, and some shocking recent victories in Special Elections, even Texas Democrats are hoping for some serious magic in this November’s Elections.

But can they make magic, without money??

For all of the press and campaign energy, Texas’ two best hopes at retaking the Governor’s Office seem to have not produced major fundraising results.  As Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express- News reports, both candidates are barely noticeable on the campaign finance journey…

AUSTIN — Houston businessman Andrew White, working to break out of a crowded Democratic primary race for governor, said Monday he has made a $1 million loan to his campaign for the effort.

“I’m going to raise as much as I possibly can, and I’m going to spend it all,” White said, estimating the primary race will take several million dollars. He previously said he made a $40,000 loan to his campaign.

White and former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez have received the bulk of the attention in a nine-way race for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has more than $43 million in his campaign account.

Valdez — who according to her campaign raised $48,504 in the first part of this year, including a $5,000 loan she made to herself — said in a statement that she isn’t concerned about White’s money.

“I came from humble beginnings as one of eight children born to migrant farm workers. I then spent my career in service to the people of Texas. I’m not wealthy, but I have a lot to be thankful for — including the grassroots support that’s powering my campaign and this movement. I’m not worried about Andrew White’s million-dollar campaign loan, because Texan Democrats can’t be bought, and we’ll prove that on election day,” she said.

Andrew White formally announced his campaign on December 7th, one full month ahead of Lupe Valdez‘s campaign kick-off.  However, it’s also worth noting that Valdez is a current elected official, while this is White’s first run at office.

So yes, it’s only been a total of two months since these folks hit the trail.  And yes, it is the Primary election, where many campaigns would prefer to save any potential resources for the General Election.  But whatever one’s situation, if these candidates are to be taken seriously in the race Texas Governor, the campaign contributions are going to have to improve rapidly. A credible challenger to juggernaut Greg Abbott should be starting their campaign with a six and seven figure war chest, because that’s what they will need to build some serious name ID across the state.

As a high profile elected official in the Dallas area, Sheriff Valdez is clearly up on the name ID front. But how is she going to reach voters in Midland, Mexia or Marfa on a $50,000 budget??

Mr. White has been gaining ground in recent weeks, and even racked up some impressive endorsements. With the press alone that his $1 million dollar self donation has generated, he’s proving that he can emerge from a crowded field. But the lack of diverse, small dollar donations is troublesome, and does not invite confidence in others to sign on to his effort.

So the game right now for Democrats really comes down to one thing above all… attention. How can a Democrat get their name and face out to 28 million citizens? Gubernatorial candidates would do well to take some cues from Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke, who has managed to combine an aggressive social media apparatus with a bold, 254 county shoe leather campaign. Whether he wins or loses, at Texans I’ll know that he is a viable choice for the job.

Both Valdez and White have met several times in various candidate forums.  Perhaps they, and other Primary candidates would consider holding a couple of live-stream debates before the Primary election?  Though most Texans aren’t yet paying attention, it could be a great way to further engage those that are ready to put their money to use.  However they choose to make those money moves, the time is NOW.

Somebody call Cardi B!!

 

TLCQ 2018: Tahir Javed

In the Ninth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Tahir Javed,  candidate for U.S. House, Texas’ 29th Congressional 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?

TJ:  Tahir Javed

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

TJ:  No.

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

Government is one of the highest public goods. It is the culmination of our collective will, values, and aims. Government has done much to lift people out of poverty, improve people’s health, provide economic opportunity, and abolish reprehensible systems of oppressive slavery. It is vital to helping us continue the march of progress, however slow and imperfect it may be at times, we must continue moving forward.

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

TJ:  Increase access to affordable healthcare for all. Boost funding for schools to provide a quality education for all our students. Bring investment to create high paying jobs that pay a living wage.

First we need to stop the cuts to any funding for healthcare. If we can pick up enough seats, we need to begin pushing harder for Medicare for All. In the meantime, I will continue my work as the president and CEO of a healthcare system in Texas to provide underserved communities the much needed access to hospitals and clinics they need now.

The Texas legislature continues to kick the can down the road on adequately funding our schools. This is where we as congressman need to step up and do what we can when the state fails to honor parents, teachers, and students. Of course we need to increase the funding for education, we also need to be looking at how come up with funding amounts. States like Texas, and others who spend far less than others on education are actually punished by the allocation formulas of Title I. We need to revisit the funding formulas and find a way to make them work for those states with the poorest of students.

As a businessman I have ensured every person I employ receives a living wage. I think it is the duty of every business to pay their employees fairly because it makes sense for owners too—we should all want our employees focused on doing the best job, rather than on how to make ends meet—I will work to raise the minimum wage.

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.

TJ:  On the federal level, the Highway Trust Fund is on track to be in a 160 billion dollar hole. The last time anyone raised the taxes on gas was in 1993. We are long overdue on making the Highway Trust Fund solvent, and ensuring it is fully funded to meet the demands growth in many states like Texas, will need now and in the future. I support measures we can take to fully fund the Highway Trust Fund.

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?  

TJ:  As a president and CEO of a healthcare system in Texas I have seen many under-served communities lose hospitals and clinics. My work has been concentrated on helping those communities losing access to healthcare by turning around failing facilities, and building more hospitals and clinics. I will continue this work in our community if I am elected. We need to continue the work of public-private partnerships to help bring these hospitals and clinics back to these communities. Our federal government needs to work to improve Obamacare and move to a single-payer system. We need healthcare for all.

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.

TJ:  The decision by the Chairman of the FCC and the vote that followed to repeal Net Neutrality will have a negative effect on the market, and is an assault on the freedom of the internet. Given the current Trump administration’s stance on the issue, and the likelihood it would be hard to overturn, states should lead on protecting consumers till a change can be made at the federal level.

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

TJ:  I am uniquely qualified not only as someone who has come to this country as an immigrant who worked his way from nothing to success, but because my professional experience compliments the problems our district faces.

Healthcare coverage in Texas, especially in our district, continues to be the lowest among the states, and the cost of it continues to rise. As CEO and president of one the fastest growing healthcare systems in Texas, I have spent time building hospitals and clinics, and turning around failing hospitals in the most rural and poor areas. I know how we can achieve affordable healthcare for all and lower cost.

Our graduation rates, college achievement, and overall school success is at an all time low. The state continues to do little to assist the poorer districts with the necessary funds to do more for our kids. They deserve a world class education. I was at a time a teacher. I eventually opened up my own school for underprivileged children where I grew up. My mission to help those around me started early in my career. It helps me understand what we need to be successful—more funding, higher teacher pay, smaller class sizes, and less focus on standardized test.

Our district has one of the lowest average incomes in southeast Texas. If we hope our hardworking families have the resources they need to achieve their own American Dream, we need high paying jobs that pay a living wage. I have created over 20 businesses, and with that thousands of jobs. It has been a belief of mine since I started my companies to pay my employees a living wage, and to ensure they had the best possible benefits. I think all businesses should lead by example. In the absence of their action, we should fight to raise the minimum wage.

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

TJ:  I love to volunteer and donate to progressive causes, as well as those in need. I also enjoy reading poetry. My favorite thing is spending time with the love of my life, my wife, our beautiful children, and cooking a big meal for them all.

 

Thanks to Mr. Ashley 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!!)

TLCQ 2018: Kevin Nelson

In the Eighth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Kevin Nelson,  candidate for U.S. House, Texas’ 10th Congressional 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?

KN:  Kevin Nelson

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

KN:  No, this is my first run for office.

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

KN:  I believe the government must protect everyone’s rights, must serve as a counterbalance to powerful private interests, and must give a helping hand to those who need it. Unfortunately, it has recently been doing a poor job with all of those tasks. I would like to do what I can to help turn things around.

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

KN:  My top priorities are affordable healthcare; tax fairness; and addressing general political dysfunction. With regard to healthcare, my top priority would be to improve and extend the Affordable Care Act. In particular, I would like to see the original ACA public option put into law. With regard to taxes, I would like to make the overall tax system more progressive. The top two or three percent can afford to shoulder more of the burden, and working people deserve a break. Ideally, I would like to add a progressive component to the payroll tax. With regard to political dysfunction, there are many steps we could take such as better regulation of so-called SuperPACs. I also support abolition of the Electoral College.

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.

KN:   Improving infrastructure is something both parties should be able to agree on. We need more funding for upkeep of existing roads, bridges, and many other items. One of my own priorities would be more support for public transportation, which would help us develop our cities in a more sustainable and livable fashion.

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?  

KN:   One immediate step we can take is to expand Medicaid, which will help patients both directly and indirectly, by providing more revenue to hospitals. Though the decision on Medicaid expansion is currently left up to individual states, the federal government should use its leverage to encourage Texas and other states to go forward with it. I would also support the proposed Save Rural Hospitals Act, which would make more Medicare funding available and help hospitals to keep providing vital services. In the longer term, I would like to expand and extend the Affordable Care Act, most importantly by returning to the public option that was part of the original proposal for the Act.

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.

KN:   I support writing net neutrality into law. Internet service providers often enjoy near-monopoly status, and they should not be able to take advantage of that status by giving special treatment to whatever online content they favor. In the long run, I believe we should work towards an internet environment with more choice and competition, which would benefit ordinary consumers in many different ways. One idea I like that would help us move towards that goal is something called “local loop unbundling.” It is possible that we might eventually create enough competition to make net neutrality unnecessary, but we are still a long way from that day.

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

KN:  We have a great field of Democratic candidates this year, and I will be happy to support whoever the eventual nominee is. That being said, I believe there are two things that make me stand out. First of all, I place a high priority on procedural reforms. We can’t just look at what decisions need to be made–we need to look at how the decisions are made. And there’s a lot of work to be done there. For example, the congressional leadership should have less power to block bills that are favored by a majority of the members. Second, if nominated I will be able to concentrate one hundred percent on my general-election campaign. The tenth is an uphill district for any Democrat, but I believe it is winnable.

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

KN:  I enjoy reading, movies, and getting out and walking on hiking trails or just around the city.

 

Thanks to Mr. Nelson 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!!)

Planned High Speed Rail Selects Houston Terminus

Even in the face of uncertainty and some fierce opposition, the bold plan for a high-speed rail line connecting Texas’ two largest metros marches forward.  In fact, as Dug Begley of the Houston Chronicle reports, yesterday’s news on the project represents a rather significant leap forward…

Once a Houston destination for shopping, movies and visits with Santa, the site of Northwest Mall is poised for revival as a bullet train terminal, with local officials and train backers seeing dollar signs from the sales tax growth potential.

Texas Central Partners and Houston-area elected officials on Monday announced that the company, which is seeking federal approval for a 240-mile high-speed train line, has chosen the mall’s 45-acre tract near Loop 610 and U.S. 290 as its preferred site for the southern terminal.

Mayor Sylvester Turner called the announcement further proof of a dramatic change in how — and where — people will travel in the Houston region.

“We are moving to a new phase in this city,” Turner said at a Monday ceremony announcing the site selection and releasing renderings of the proposed station.

The station would alter mobility for miles around it, as Houston — with some yet-to-be-determined help from Texas Central — aims to connect the location to downtown, both Houston-area airports and other major job and entertainment centers.

Here’s a clip of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Press Conference announcing the preferred site…

Last week, Texas Central Partners in junctions with Dallas city leaders, made a similar reveal of the Dallas terminus, to be located just south of the cities’ Downtown.

The announcements come on the heels of a whirlwind round of contentious public hearings by the Federal Railroad Administration, where many residents shared concerns, complaints and a few praises about the project.  Even with these large steps forward, the high speed rail line still faces major hurdles.

But if completed, this project could be the catalyst for what Mayor Turner calls a “Transportation Reformation”, especially for the Houston region.  Though still a ways from reality, plans for local light rail projects which would connect downtown, the Galleria and to Houston’s airports have been accelerated.  These associated projects could prove a major leap for Houston’s many complex transportation needs.  Of course, funding them would require some serious buy-in from Houston voters, so it remains to be seen.

That’s the latest news.  Off the Kuff has more excellent coverage.

(from the Mayor’s announcement, a rendering of the proposed station at the Northwest mall site)

(GPS view of the proposed station location)