Texas Station Collaborative Candidate Questionnaire
What do you consider the most critical issue Texas will face over the next five years? If elected, how would you approach this issue?
The most critical issue facing Texas-and all states-is a Balanced Budget. It is imperative to address this issue over the next 5 years rather than allow Congress to continue to ignore the problem. Our national debt and annual budget deficits are setting the country up for failure. The solution is easy to understand--increase revenue and decrease spending--but nearly impossible to navigate: politicians are unwilling to broach the conversation for fear of losing their jobs. The budget affects all aspects of governing; solutions require more than soundbites and headlines to be appropriately thoughtful. 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. I will govern with the understanding that each piece of legislation could impact the financial well-being of our nation and needs careful consideration to avoid furthering the downward spiral.
School finance in Texas has generated lots of talk but little legislation in recent years. What is your philosophy on the future of public school funding?
The U.S. ranks 38th in math and 24th in science, yet spends the most per student. Funding may still need to be increased but we must audit where funds are most successfully spent and add where prudent. We need to resolve disparities in funding as it is largely determined by local property taxes. Additionally, 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 need to balance local leadership and nationwide goals. We must support a diversity of 2- and 4-year programs, and certificate and job training programs. Most importantly, the details of any projected policy initiative should be determined in conjunction with subject matter experts: teachers, administrators and parents who know best how to succeed. As a Congresswoman, my office will unite all levels of government and hold myself, my colleagues, and my state and local peers accountable for follow through.
Do you believe America has a problem with gun violence? If so, how do you plan tackle it?
Yes, America has a problem with gun violence. I am a gun owner myself and appreciate the freedom the 2nd amendment provides for all citizens. However, the multiple recent tragic events bring to light necessary reforms, supported by a wide majority of the community: universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and keeping weapons out of the hands of those with documented mental health concerns. None of these provisions impedes on my right to own a gun and are well within a reasonable interpretation and history of implementation of the 2nd amendment.
Congress and the President want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and have taken steps to dismantle it. What role should the government have when it comes to health insurance?
There is general recognition across the ideological spectrum that providing for healthy communities is not only financially and socially valuable, 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 all people. Expecting one answer to solve all concerns 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 these complex concerns to strike the right mix of options, protections and freedoms.
Texas adds about a thousand people a day. This rapid growth has caused several problems. What are the top three issues the government should address because of this growth?
While an influx of residents can bring increased tax revenue, it can also burden local resources. For years, infrastructure improvements at both the federal, state and local level have been placed on the back burner, allowing our roads, bridges and water treatment systems to suffer extensive damage; this perpetual disregard for an ever growing concern must be addressed. Additionally, Texas continues to avoid addressing the over-production and consumption of groundwater reserves at unsustainable rates. The problem will only worsen without a plan for protection, proper development and sustainability. Lastly, an increased demand on the housing market will cause property taxes and housing prices to go up, potentially increasing the homeless population as residents are priced out of their neighborhoods. Consideration must be made in regards to vulnerable populations; it is more fiscally beneficial to house and help develop these groups than pay for the outcomes if they lose their homes.
As a Texan, what do you believe is missing from the conversation about immigration and border security? How would your beliefs influence your approach to those policies?
The largest piece missing from the conversation on immigration and border security is addressing the laws and policies that are currently creating the mountain of impassable red tape for those who want to enter our country by following proper legal process. I do not believe in open borders but spending money on a physical wall does not seem to be the best use of resources. We have always been a country of opportunity and I am glad to legally welcome those that want the same opportunity for their families, want to work and support our country or need refuge and asylum from tyrannical or dangerous conditions. The current immigration process itself it broken, unnecessarily complicated and being used entirely contrary to the values our country was founded on. Addressing the legal concerns will help alleviate the burden at the physical borders, allowing our officers and resources to be directed appropriately.
Describe a unique experience from your childhood that shaped who you are today.
As a high school student, each summer I volunteered for a local mission project called U.M. Army. A program of the United Methodist Church, the week long camps brought together hundreds of teenagers (and a few brave adults) to provide no-cost home repairs for elderly, disabled and financially disadvantaged homeowners. We painted, hammered, tore down and rebuilt everything from doors to floors to wheelchair ramps. The clients were always immensely grateful and generous, even with the little they may have had. While the outset of the week always looked like we’d be the ones serving the community, so often we walked away the beneficiaries, richer in spirit and passion. The experience shaped my work ethic, my gratitude for community, my commitment to serving and my faith. My campaign declared from the beginning that all contributions would be donated back to local nonprofits in the community and the experience of U.M. Army was one of the driving forces behind that decision.