Q&A: Texas House District 150 candidates discuss development, other legislative plans

A variety of federal, state and local races will be decided during the Nov. 3 elections. Early voting begins Oct. 13. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
A variety of federal, state and local races will be decided during the Nov. 3 elections. Early voting begins Oct. 13. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

A variety of federal, state and local races will be decided during the Nov. 3 elections. Early voting begins Oct. 13. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)



HOUSTON



Texas House District 150











* indicates incumbent







Valoree Swanson*



R



Occupation: Business


Experience: State Representative for District 150






If elected, what is the first piece of legislation you plan to file?



VS: As a member of the Elections Committee in the House, and as a longtime grassroots activist, campaign volunteer, and election judge, I have filed legislation each session to strengthen the integrity of our elections. It is imperative that each vote be counted fairly and securely and that no one be able to cheat. I passed critical election integrity legislation last session, and my staff and I are preparing a package of bills to continue that fight into the coming session. I am also busy meeting with constituents, discussing their ideas for protecting our rights and safety and keeping Texas strong.



What are the biggest challenges District 150 is facing, and how do you plan to address those challenges?



VS: House District 150 was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. Last session, I co-authored and helped pass numerous bills to fund flood mitigation projects and disaster relief. I will continue to support efforts to improve our preparation and response. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the recent rioting and uptick in violence, my constituents are also very concerned about the left’s irrational soft touch dealing with crime. Democrat leaders around the country are defunding law enforcement. I am committed to ensuring that peace and safety prevail in our neighborhoods, communities and schools.



How do you plan to address development in the district?



VS: State representatives do not control local zoning and construction, but we do have a say in the approval or disapproval of certain government-subsidized low-income housing developments. In my terms in office, I have signed letters opposing and stopping each proposed development in House District 150. My constituents are very concerned about this issue, and they have opposed each proposed development overwhelmingly. I will continue working to ensure my constituents have a voice in this process.









Michael Robert Walsh



D



Occupation: senior at Sam Houston State University majoring in political science


Experience: Candidate did not respond.






If elected, what is the first piece of legislation you plan to file?



MRW: I plan to introduce legislation to increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour to adjust for inflation since the most recent increase in 2009. Raising the minimum wage will increase consumer spending, grow the economy, stimulate business and raise the standard of living for Texans.



What are the biggest challenges District 150 is facing, and how do you plan to address those challenges?



MRW: Much like the rest of Texas and the nation at large, our district has been greatly challenged by the COVID-19 epidemic which has revealed the vulnerability of the Texas workforce. Like many in our community, I lost my own job due to the epidemic and learned first hand the inefficiency of the Texas Workforce Commission. We need to increase funding to the TWC ensure that workers receive their unemployment benefits in a timely manner, as well as improve the TWC’s ability to protect Texas' workers from wage theft.



How do you plan to address development in your district?



MRW: Texas is the energy capital of the world. Whether you believe in climate change or not, the shift towards renewable energy is an undeniable trend. Texas is already [No. 1] in wind energy, and we need to expand this to solar panel and electric car manufacturing so that we take advantage of the great economic opportunities involved. If Texas and the Houston area do not retain their dominance of the energy sector, we may face the same fate of Detroit following the decentralization of auto manufacturing.









Jesse Herrera



L



Occupation: Semi-retired attorney


Experience: practicing attorney for about 16 [to] 17 years






If elected, what is the first piece of legislation you plan to file?



JH: My biggest concern has a lot to do with what's going on these days and a lot of the injustice that we see with respect to how the police are sometimes seen ... deals with the drug war. It was started for the wrong reasons and it's been perpetuated for the wrong reasons. My biggest intention at the very onset is to, at least as far as Texas is concerned, get the heck off of that train to nowhere, because we've been fighting this war since 1970 with [President Richard] Nixon. He put it in play for the wrong reasons and it's just gotten out of control and it's very, in my opinion, unconstitutional the way it's being perpetrated so my first order of business would be deleting a lot of the laws in Texas that deal with basically any law that doesn't have [an] easily identifiable victim, other than the person themselves.



What are the biggest challenges District 150 is facing, and how do you plan to address those challenges?



JH: Right now, I think the biggest challenge is small business—the way it's been impacted by these ordinances and edicts put out there by ... governors. The way I understand how the law works, I don't believe that they're allowed to make laws. And they're certainly not allowed to be unfair in the way that they enforce them. It's one thing to have the power to enforce an edict or an order and it's another thing to have the authority to issue that edict or order to begin with. I think that the legislative power rests in the Texas House and Senate. They're the ones that make the laws, not the governor, not any of the mayors, not any of the county judges. So, I would think that with respect to how small businesses are allowed to conduct their business that is the biggest problem facing District 150 and ... that's what I'm going to focus on for my district in a way that benefits all the state and my district—make sure that there is no preferences in the law as to which businesses get to survive and which don't.



How do you plan to address development in your district?



JH: My approach to business is to get the government out of the way of it—remove barriers to small business and impediments to businesses that are already in existence, [and] ... keep the government involvement to a minimum in how people choose to conduct their business. That will make more small businesses getting open, more small businesses staying in business, more jobs for everybody, a larger tax base. I also believe that taxes should be reduced—that's one of the barriers that I'm talking about but it still creates a bigger environment to tax from, and I believe that that's the way to go, rather than taxing the businesses that are productive ... to where they just can't operate anymore. You can't get blood from air; if there are no businesses out there, there's nothing for the government to obtain revenue from.


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