Primary Election Q&A: Democratic candidates for Texas Senate District 13

Early voting for Texas' March 3 primary election begins Feb. 18. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)
Early voting for Texas' March 3 primary election begins Feb. 18. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)

Early voting for Texas' March 3 primary election begins Feb. 18. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)

Two Democratic candidates for Texas Senate District 13 are vying to oust incumbent Sen. Borris Miles for a spot on the November 2020 ballot.

Community Impact Newspaper contacted each candidate with questions about their campaign priorities for the district, which covers parts of southwest Houston. Answers may have been edited for length.

Early voting begins Feb. 18 and ends Feb. 28, and election day is March 3. Find a polling location here.

*indicates incumbent

Borris Miles*


Website: www.borrismiles.com

Occupation/experience: State Senator, District 13

How will your professional or personal experience prepare you for this position?

I have been a state representative and state senator since 2007 fighting for the families of my districts. I have a demonstrated record of progressive leadership fighting for improving public education, increasing access to health care, protecting the right to vote, and passing criminal justice reform. I am the only candidate who has been active in the community for more than 20 years, even before I was an elected official.

What will be your top priority if elected?

Last year, the Legislature passed SB 3 with my support to significantly increase funding for public education and cut the Robin Hood payments that property rich districts like Houston ISD were forced to pay. Next year, we must find a long-term, sustainable source of revenue to pay for public education. Republicans want to increase the sales tax which would disproportionately affect poorer taxpayers. I believe we should close some of the corporate tax loopholes, some of which have been in existence for decades, to increase funding for public education.

How can you represent the diverse needs of this district?

I have assembled the most diverse staff in the Senate to work with me to address the unique needs of communities in the district. I have held job fairs from Alief to Northeast Houston. We have fought polluters whether they are concrete crushers in Houston or a driller whose oil well blew out in Ft. Bend County. I secured funding to create the Miles Ahead Scholars to help at-risk boys attend college and sponsored internship fairs to help high school students find a summer internship. I work hard to address the specific needs of the communities in Senate District 13.


Richard Andrews

Website:
www.andrewstexassenate.com

Occupation/experience: As a family doctor for 30 years I have always worked with uninsured/underinsured patients, and communities so I am passionate and well-informed about lack of access to healthcare.The last Texas legislature had seven physicians, but they were all Republicans, and almost all specialists. So their deliberations about whether to expand Medicaid or consider doing something about the cost of medications were all one-sided. I seek to change that and make sure there is a least one progressive Democrat at the table.

What will be your top priority if elected?

I think our extreme and worsening income disparities harm individuals, families, and society as a whole. This is not just my opinion, there is a lot of evidence in the medical and public health literature supporting this. I think people who make more money (like doctors) should pay higher taxes, because we have a lot of work to do, and that requires resources.The recent anti income tax referendum that was pushed by Republicans makes it harder to have a progressive tax structure in Texas, but not impossible. I think corporations should pay a larger share of the taxes.

How can you represent the diverse needs of this district?

I will be the first person to say that Texas does not have a shortage of old white men as political leaders, so I am not running on that aspect of myself. But as a family doctor in community health centers for 3 decades I developed an intimate connection to my mostly black and brown patients and the under-served communities from which they come. My patients included migrant farmworkers, chicken factory workers, cooks and waitstaff, disabled people, people with addictions, caregivers and many other working folks. I am aggravated by the lack of opportunity and healthcare that deeply affect my patients.

Melissa Morris

Website:
www.morrisforsenate2020.com

Occupation/experience: Attorney and No political experience

How will your professional or personal experience prepare you for this position?

I have always been an agent of social change and have taken a personal interest with all issues that deal with access to resources, equity and justice. My experience as an attorney has made me a more empathetic and impassioned candidate who recognizes that each of the residents in my district has had a different journey and that each of them are as valid and worthwhile as the next. Putting people first, over politics and power, is the only way to restore trust and ensure a better life for all Texans.

What will be your top priority if elected?

Social Reform- Policy changes are needed to end mass incarceration, poverty and the criminalization of it, physical and mental health care to all citizens, and protecting the most vulnerable and marginalized to provide immediate remedies for existing problems. While addressing those issues, my priority would be to ensure that all of the social reform proposals and policies will continue to avoid the trappings of the above listed issues by increasing and equalizing funding to public schools and start free education at three years old for all children.

How can you represent the diverse needs of this district?

My practice has made me understand that as an advocate, it is my job to learn about the person, or community, and find out what issues affect their lives, get educated on the issues, implement common sense solutions and maintain trust of each community by staying plugged into the community by being accessible. I understand that it is not necessary for me to have had the same life experiences but instead to advocate for the interests of each constituent, because their experience is valid and important. A career advocate, not politician is the best representative of this diverse district.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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