Houston Chronicle Candidate Questionnaire

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Why are you running for office?

We need representatives who will put aside party politics and work together to find the best options to move us all forward. Washington is at a standstill because no one is willing to work together. We see consistent and convenient blame but not a hint of cooperation, servant leadership or true concern for the community. We need Congress to look like our nation, represent our nation, and move past sound bites, headlines and grandstanding that only serve to get them re-elected. I chose to run and help transform the current, broken status quo by constructing the government each one of us deserves: a government owned by the people, working for the people.

What sets you apart from your opponents?

As an Independent, I am not beholden to anyone but my community. If we vote the way we always have, we will see the same outcomes we always have. Independent is not ‘lukewarm’. Just the opposite: Independent is doing the hard work of bringing together differing opinions and turning them into lasting policy. A Congressperson should represent their constituents, not a party or special interests. I am free to listen to this community which historically votes 60% Republican, 40% Democratic. In a such balanced district, it’s unfortunate that our current representative votes 96% of the time with his party, rather than our district.

What is your top priority?

Balanced Budget: We cannot afford to keep kicking the can down the road: our national debt and annual budget deficits are setting the country up for failure. What is most apparent is that the solution is easy to understand--increase revenue and decrease spending--but the practical implications are nearly impossible to navigate because it will involve sacrifice by everyone and politicians are unwilling to broach the conversation for fear of losing their jobs. The budget affects all aspects of governing, therefore solutions require more than soundbites and headlines to be appropriately thoughtful and not flippant. Resolving the budget will be a long process and require in depth review, many options, different perspectives, working and reworking until a comprehensive plan can be produced. Once in office I will govern with the understanding that each piece of legislation that could impact the financial well-being of our nation needs careful consideration and planning to avoid furthering the downward spiral but rather it should actively contribute to a sustainable financial future.

What is your second top priority?

Education Reform: Globally, the U.S. ranks 38th in math and 24th in science, yet spends the most per student. We must eliminate standardized tests in their current form, bring creativity back to classrooms, and allow teachers the freedom to address their students’ individual needs. We must strike the right balance of local leadership and determination with common nationwide goals. We need to ensure consistent standards are being met but overhaul standardized testing practices. We must improve access to and support of pre-primary education programs, recognizing the significance and sensitivity of this foundational time in the education cycle. We must better prepare students during their time of transition to post-secondary education, focusing on the increased need for a balance of four-year programs, 2-year programs, certificate programs and job training programs and not a one-size-fits-all approach. We need to resolve the disparity caused by funding discrepancies due to the majority of available funds being determined by local property taxes. Most importantly, the details of any projected policy initiatives should be determined not by solely by politicians but rather in conjunction with the subject matter experts: a diverse group of teachers, administrators and parents whom know best how to succeed through meaningful, lasting reform. Many times, when complex issues and multiple jurisdictions overlap, politicians can’t point their fingers fast enough at the other parties to pass the blame on anything negative but still take all the credit for the positive. Education is no different: it is widely understood that something needs to change as it is clear we are not meeting the expectations we have set for ourselves as a nation, but local, state and federal bureaucracies have yet to work together. No one has yet stepped up to take ownership of their contribution nor lead any of their fellow contributors successfully. As a Congresswoman, my office will be about coalitions, uniting all the various levels of government and holding myself, my colleagues, and my state and local partners accountable to following through.

What is your third top priority?

Universal Healthcare Access: There is general recognition across the ideological spectrum that providing for healthy individuals and families is not only financially and socially valuable for our communities, but also morally imperative. While a lasting solution has yet to be implemented, the pursuit of ensuring each citizen has access to affordable healthcare must remain a top priority. Healthcare must meet the unique needs of millions of people. Expecting that one answer can solve all of the healthcare issues is like expecting everyone to fit into the same size pants. Healthcare must address pre-existing conditions and be accessible by individuals, small business and large corporations alike. There should be a safety net to catch the least among us and it should never be a question of potentially choosing between your life and affording the care you need. There must be a balance between healthcare company profits and consumer protection from exorbitant prices. Once elected, I will unite all of these complex concerns to strike the right mix of options, protections and freedoms.

how can constituents reach you?

Once in office, frequent, transparent communication is imperative. My office will be responsive and accountable. I will hold a minimum of four town halls in the district each year with reasonable accommodations and ample room. The events will be available live on social media, free, open to the general public and press, and announced at least one week in advance. All town halls will provide at least 30 minutes for open, unscreened questions.