Mark Phariss has filed to run for Texas state senator, District 8. He is running as a Democrat against Brian Chaput in the March 6 primary election.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Phariss a list of questions about his candidacy. Below are his answers, edited for publication style.
Q: Why did you decide to run for this office?
A: I decided to run because I care deeply about the state and my district, and I saw a Texas Legislature focused on divisive issues like bathroom bills, and not on issues that really matter to the citizens of the state of Texas, like public education, property taxes, healthcare, transportation and good-paying jobs. Texans deserve better from their representatives.
Q: What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
I am a lawyer, which will help tremendously since the Legislature obviously deals with drafting laws. I have been a business lawyer for the past 32 years in the state of Texas, and I have spent my career helping individuals and businesses—large and small, across a wide range of industries—achieve their business objectives. Part of that involves negotiating deals, which entails helping different parties to a transaction bridge their differences if possible. I have also coordinated governmental affairs at a couple of companies, and, as a pro bono lawyer to the San Antonio Sports Foundation, I helped draft and lobby for (along with the late Ray Hutchison) Senate Bill 456, a bill that was signed into law by then-Gov. George W. Bush. All of this background will help me serve Texans well in the Texas Senate.
Q: If elected, what would be your top priorities?
A: My top priority is making sure that public education is adequately funded so that our children receive the education they deserve and our local property taxes can be reduced. I also want to make sure that we’re addressing our transportation needs. Texas’ population is projected to double to 60 million people by 2050, just a little more than 30 years from now. We must plan for that growth or the congestion will become more miserable than it is now. Local communities must have a say in how those transportation projects are funded so that, if a community wants to use managed lanes or tollways, they should be able to.
Q: What else do you want constituents to know about you and your background?
A: I am running for the Texas Senate because, as a proud Texan for the past 32 years, I care deeply about my state and want to help make it a better place for all Texans. Giving back to my community was an obligation instilled in me from a very early age. My mother, who was very religious, taught me and my siblings to assist “the least of these,” as Matthew 25:40 says to do. During the holiday season, she would take my siblings and me to visit shut-ins and those in nursing homes, where we sang Christmas carols and distributed cookies, candies and fudge that my mother helped us make. My years as a Boy Scout—and as a God & Country awardee, Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow member—also taught me to “do a good turn daily.” I’ve tried to continue those young habits throughout my adult life. Serving as a state senator is just one more way I feel I can give back what my community has given to me.