Election Q&A: Texas House District 126

Get to know the two candidates, Natali Hurtado and Sam Harless, who are running to represent Texas House District 126. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Get to know the two candidates, Natali Hurtado and Sam Harless, who are running to represent Texas House District 126. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Get to know the two candidates, Natali Hurtado and Sam Harless, who are running to represent Texas House District 126. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)



HOUSTON



Texas House District 126







*Indicates incumbent






Natali Hurtado



D



Occupation: deputy executive director


Experience: former legislative staffer






What is the top issue you would address if elected?



NH: COVID-19 has affected our society in so many ways. From health care to the economy, we face an entirely different world. Our leaders must be ready to meet these new challenges. I intend to work with local leaders to expand access to affordable health care—especially since over 1.5 million Texans have been added to the uninsured roll due to our current pandemic.



Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position?



NH: I have a passion for public service that runs deep. My schooling and career choices have always been with the intent to give back to my community: from working at the city of Houston to interning with the Honorable Gene Green; then, as a district director for a local state representative; and now, as the deputy executive director for a management district. I bring a unique set of skills and experience in economic development initiatives that I know will be beneficial to Texas House [District] 126.



If elected, what will you do to address chronic flooding in your district, specifically along Cypress Creek?



NH: Cypress Creek watershed has been prone to flooding, greatly impacting the quality of life in our district. As an elected official, I will continue to work with members of our community to increase projects that reduce the flood risk. It's going to take updating flood maps, aggressive buyouts and taking a stand against development along the watershed. We need to prioritize green space since it is a proven method to mitigate flooding.



If elected, what will you do to promote economic recovery in your district throughout/following the COVID-19 pandemic?



NH: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on economic growth in Texas. The recovery is projected to be more gradual than expected, and I am ready to lead House District 126 through that recovery. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and making sure they have the resources needed to weather the storm will be critical to our recovery.



If elected, how will you ensure your district has adequate access to COVID-19 resources (testing, personal protective equipment, hospital beds, etc.)?



NH: About 27% of House District 126 residents work in the health care industry and government services. These numbers include police officers, firefighters and emergency service personnel. The safety of our community begins with our front-line workers. Giving them access to quality health care, testing and protective [equipment] means that our health care infrastructure will remain ready to support the needs of our district residents. I will work with lawmakers in Austin to author legislation that appropriate the funds necessary to ensure we have adequate access to resources.









Sam Harless*



R



Occupation: State Rep. District 126


Experience: Served the district for the last two years; spent the last 44 years living in the district, [and] I feel and know its needs; involved in many charities in the district






What is the top issue you would address if elected?



SH: We must continue to tackle COVID-19 so that we can get our kids back to school and our economy back on track. As a local small-business owner, I am fighting to eliminate regulations so we can create jobs and get Texans back to work. I am also very concerned about public safety in light of the rioting we've seen across the country. I will continue to support local law enforcement and fight any effort to defund our police.



Why are you the most qualified candidate for this position?



SH: A 44-year district resident, I started mowing lawns at the age of 14 and later became a successful small-business owner. My wife, Patricia, and I give back to the community through a number of charities and educational foundations. As a local small-business owner, I understand these challenging times and will fight to cut regulations and get small businesses and families back to work. I have also delivered on the promises I made when I first ran—we increased public education funding by $5 billion, created stiffer penalties for human trafficking, increased funding for women's health care and delivered $2 billion in disaster relief funding.



If elected, what will you do to address chronic flooding in your district, specifically along Cypress Creek?



SH: This was my top priority during my first session, and I am proud of what we accomplished. First, we worked with our local, state and federal partners to deliver $2 billion in disaster relief funding. This funding will allow us to spend significant money in/around Harris County and the Cypress Creek area to build needed infrastructure. Second, I was proud to co-chair the Harris County flood mitigation bond campaign. This bond will further allow for the construction of much needed infrastructure in Harris County. There's still work to be done, and I will continue to lead on this effort.



If elected, what will you do to promote economic recovery in your district throughout/following the COVID-19 pandemic?



SH: This is where my background and experience gives me a huge advantage over my opponent. As a local small-business owner, I understand these challenging times and will fight to cut regulations and get small businesses and families back to work. I will also hold the line on taxes. Now is not the time to increase taxes on hardworking families as some Democrats have proposed. Texas has enjoyed the strongest economy in the country due to our pro-economic policies. We must continue to promote these policies so that people can get back to work and our economy can recover as rapidly as possible.



If elected, how will you ensure your district has adequate access to COVID-19 resources (testing, personal protective equipment, hospital beds, etc.)?



SH: Over the past six months, I have worked with our state and federal partners to provide additional testing kits and PPE for my constituents and the medical facilities in our district. In the future, we must have a stockpile of these materials at all times. This will require increased funding from the state and federal government, and it will require constant monitoring and leadership. Ongoing preparedness is an issue that we will aggressively tackle during the upcoming legislative session.



By Hannah Zedaker

Editor, Spring/Klein & Lake Houston/Humble/Kingwood

Hannah joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor of the Spring/Klein edition and later became the editor of both the Spring/Klein and Lake Houston/Humble/Kingwood editions in June 2021. Hannah covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Hannah served as associate editor of The Houstonian, interned with Community Impact Newspaper and spent time writing for the Sam Houston State University College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication and The Huntsville Item.