These are questionnaires answered by Jeffrey by various political and non-political organizations.
SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
What is your background, including your education and previous jobs? What qualifies you for the position of governor?
I have a degree from Louisiana Tech. Not only am I a successful businessperson, but I have a background as a Mediator for the Department of Labor in Louisiana. My background is in bringing people to the table and finding common ground, something that will be invaluable as Governor of Texas and the fractious Texas Legislature.
How will you compete against Gov. Greg Abbott if you are the Democratic nominee?
During the primary we have been taking our message directly to the people. Our message of sanity in Texas Government resonates and we will continue our grass roots approach along with mobile media, social media and outdoor advertising. Greg Abbott's voters are older and watch television, ours are younger and rely on mobile phones and other devices. Television advertising is very expensive and so we anticipate Abbott will use a great deal of his war chest on that.
What are your priorities if you are elected?
Texas is a big state and has a lot of concerns, chief among those is education. We under-fund our educational system and continue to add more and more expectations from it. I believe we can do better and manage the system better by putting education in the hands of professional educators and taking it out pf the hands of politicians. Healthcare is critical in our state, specifically women's health. We have the highest rate of maternal mortality in the country, equal to some third world countries. We must do better and if the federal government cant find a better solution, I would propose a state based one. Infrastructure is a problem in Texas. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our state a C- grade and our roads a D. We are funding our highways with a tax system established in the 1990's. Time to look at the gasoline tax and other ways to fund road construction. Toll roads are not the answer. We must recognize that the large number of undocumented immigrants in Texas are vital to our economy and they deserve a path to citizenship. We incarcerate far too many people of color for low level infractions. This injustice has to be addressed. We should also end the privatization of prisons which seems to be one of the driving factors in the injustice.
What do you think about Lupe Valdez and Andrew White getting the most of the attention in this race so far?
Both came into the race late and are running lack-luster campaigns. We have been campaigning since July of 2017 with detailed policies and real solutions. We may not be a former Governor's son or a local sheriff but we have the passion, skills and courage to do the job. I suspect the Democratic Party has been tacitly backing Lupe in an attempt to attract Hispanic voters, however we believe Latinos in Texas care about the issues, qualifications and are not so easily swayed just because a candidate has a Hispanic surname. We are running our own race and I have seen so many Texans respond positively to it, it gives me hope. I would also hope the press would actually look at fundraising, (we are #2) and at the candidate running an energetic campaign and decide who is the front runner by measures other than a family name.
What qualifications/assets do you feel you have which sets you apart from your opponent(s) and why should you be considered for endorsement by this organization?
In a field with 10 people running for the nomination I would point to the energy and success our campaign has already had in getting our message out. We have been touring Texas since July, visiting cities and counties across the state to listen and speak with Texas voters. Our reception has been enthusiastic as Democrats and even some Republicans attend our events and let us know they are tired of politics as usual. We offer common sense, business sense and the commitment to our big and diverse state to create the best atmosphere for our citizens and our economy. I am committed to continuing our campaign and to turning Texas blue in the fall.
What are your plans for increasing Hispanic voter participation throughout the state?
According to recent polling data 32% of eligible Hispanic voters are between the ages of 18 and 29. We are specifically targeting younger voters overall and spending a lot of time in heavily hispanic districts like South Texas, El Paso and San Antonio areas. Additionally, we have made immigration reform a key issue in our policies. Though the Governor cannot dictate federal policy, he can influence state officials and veto legislation that is injurious to the Hispanic community.
Please indicate how many minorities and women you currently have on your campaign staff. (Specify their respective positions.)
The majority of my staff are LGBTQ. My Creative Director is Latino and my Social Media Director is female. As well, my Field Director is a U.S.A. Combat Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Have you retained any Hispanic firms to help with your campaign? If so, what role do they play?
We have not retained any outside firms so far, relying on our staff and internal consultants. We expect to change that after the primary.
What are the five major issues you believe are faced by the Latino community and what would you do to bring about positive changes?
Are you pro-choice or pro-life?
I strongly believe a woman’s health decisions are between her, her doctors and family. The term Pro-life is one that is often used by people who are opposed to abortion, however most of those I have spoken with seem pro-fetus and not pro-life. Framing the issue in these terms is something I don’t like to encourage. I believe we should do everything in our power to preserve the lives of our citizens and families and that extends well beyond the birth of a child.
How do you propose to pay for public school funding (i.e. what sources do you propose to adequately fund public schools)?
The Texas Legislature under-funds our schools. According to the Constitution the state is obligated to provide a free education to all Texas children and our legislature has not done that. Instead local municipalities and school districts have been responsible for funding through property taxes. To that end, because of loopholes in the law, large corporations chronically undervalue their property in order to avoid higher property taxes. I would advocate closing those loopholes and having the corporate citizens of Texas to pay their fair share.
What is your position on charter schools? Please explain.
Charter schools have had some success although their graduation rates are up to 30% lower than public school rates; however, they are not evaluated in the same manner as public schools. All charter schools must maintain or excel at the same goal and obligations, as well as meet the same high standards of our public school system or risk being shut down.
What is your position on school vouchers? Please explain.
Vouchers are a deception as they take money away from publicly funded and regulated schools, so the money can be spent on a private unregulated school. Private schools must be privately funded and all public money must be used for the funding of our public schools.
Explain your position on teacher health benefits.
Our educators must have quality health insurance as well as a retirement program that works.
Do you support private management companies intervening in schools that fail to meet state standards? Please explain.
I do not support private management companies intervening in failing schools. I believe the way to help failing schools is to properly fund them and maintain quality administrators and educators. Charter schools have a mixed record and do not have to adhere to the same evaluations as public schools. I think that is wrong and the playing field should be level. I believe it is a myth that private enterprise can automatically do everything better. Private enterprise must make profits and that means for an equal amount of funding something has to be shortchanged to produce those profits.
Do you support higher education tuition regulation?
I believe state-run higher education in Texas needs limits on tuition to prevent the system from becoming so expensive that only the wealthy can afford it, or resulting in students graduating from college with excessive student loans. I think this issue needs more study and perhaps a system like that instituted at Purdue University on Indiana where rather than student loans (which place a huge burden on graduates in their later lives) could be supplemented with an Income Sharing Agreement (ISA) where the graduate agrees to give back a small percentage of their income over a set number of years.
Explain specific revenue tax expansion methods you support/oppose.
I think we need to reform the way corporate property taxes are assessed. Today Texas corporations pretty much set the rate of their own taxation since commercial property transactions are not listed publicly like individual homes. This would go a long way toward funding our state’s education system. I also think we need to look at the state gasoline tax which has not been raised since the 1990’s.
How do you propose to increase government revenue tax?
Do you support affirmative action?
Yes including affirmative action for people with disabilities. I support a program of affirmative action in all state jobs and at all state run institutions. Providing equal opportunities in employment and education is critical to our success as a state. Our diversity is a strength we must embrace.
What is your position on tort reform?
Texas has had Tort Reform for over 14 years and it has lowered the pain and suffering damages levied during trials to a limit of $250,000. Though this law seems to have stabilized insurance premiums for physicians malpractice insurance, it has also made it much more difficult to find a lawyer who is willing to take on cases since the cost of a trial might run as high as $100,000. All in all, it has been a mixed result and I think it bears monitoring for unintended side effects.
Some questions were omitted as personal information or not applicable.
Mexican American Democrats of Texas –
Why are you seeking the endorsement from the Mexican American Democrats of Texas – CAUSA chapter?
I believe the Mexican American community is one of the most important and growing demographics in Texas. Endorsement by your organization will be a major factor in my campaign’s success. I also believe a continued relationship with the Mexican American Democrats of Texas – CAUSA Chapter can be a positive influence on our policies and work going beyond the campaign.
What is your experience for this position?
As a businessperson I have considerable experience and I consider Texas a corporation where all Texans are stakeholders. Texans should expect a return on their investment in the state and that would be in the form of quality education, robust state services and a legislature that actually works for the betterment of all Texans, not just those who are financially connected. I also have experience as a mediator when I worked for the Louisiana Department of Labor. I am skilled in bringing parties who are in dispute together at the same table to arrive at equitable consensus. It is a skill I feel I can use with the polarized factions in our legislature.
Is Latino voter outreach part of your campaign strategies or plan? Explain.
We consider the Latino vote critical to winning in Texas and to a Democratic turn over in the State legislature. According to recent polling data 32% of eligible Mexican American voters are between the ages of 18 and 29. We are specifically targeting younger voters overall and spending a lot of time in heavily Mexican American districts like South Texas, El Paso and San Antonio areas.
Do you have Latino or Spanish speaking staff on your campaign? Explain.
Several members of our campaign speak some Spanish, and my Husband, Sergio speaks Portuguese and Spanish.
Do you plan to hire Latino staff or have you in the past? What percentage of your staff? Explain.
My Creative Director is Hispanic. We have a small staff at present and we expect to add more after the primary at which time I hope to increase our diversity.
Do you support programs that will stop domestic violence? Explain.
Of course I do. Domestic violence has been an ongoing problem and we must address it at both a national and state level.
Do you support programs to help drug addicts? Explain.
Dealing with addiction is a far more productive way to stem the drug crisis than prosecuting users. I fully support the idea of state funded programs to help addicts.
Do you support programs for HIV education? Explain
As a gay man, I am acutely aware of the importance of HIV education. The growth of new HIV infections in the Hispanic and African American community points to a lack of comprehensive sex education and realistic strategies to stem the infection rate. We must educate and then help fund preventive measures that have the potential to end this epidemic in a generation.
Do you support bilingual translators/ interpreters hired or contracted to provide professional translation/ interpretation? Explain.
I have a hearing disability and I started a foundation to fund interpreters for organizations and events. I say this because I understand how important having an interpreter can be. I would support hiring professional translators when requested in legal proceedings and for state sponsored events.
Do you support immigration reform? Explain.
We must have immigration reform, and though as Governor I would have no direct control over immigration, I would encourage our congresspeople to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill that recognizes the large population of undocumented immigrants who contribute greatly to the Texas economy. They deserve a path to citizenship as do the “Dreamers” who were previously covered in the DACA program.
Do you support a woman’s right to choose? Explain.
A woman’s health decisions are her business and that of her doctors. The state has no business interfering with her decisions.
Do you support legislation and/or constitutional amendments for pro LGBT community? Explain.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I wholeheartedly support equal rights legislation for LGBTQ Texans in to end discrimination in housing, employment and public services.
What would you do to support and assist people with mental illness – in the public system at all levels and areas? Explain.
We have neglected our citizens with mental illness for too long. Texas needs a public system to treat and serve those with mental illness both institutionally and in out-patient settings.
What specific ideas do you have and or what current legislation would you support to improve our state economy and address the wealth disparity in Texas?
Texas has practiced a version of “trickle down” economics for a long time. The result? Texas ranks #8 out of 50 states in income inequality. It’s time we tried something different. Beginning with fixing our education system since an educated workforce earns more. Then we need to raise our state minimum wage to a Livable Wage. I have proposed doing that on a localized basis, since a state as large as Texas has economic needs that vary. I would propose a minimum wage boost based on factors including local property values and inflation rates. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t provide the needed income to all Texans.
Do you support Mexican American studies and Centers for Mexican American Studies? Explain.
The Mexican American heritage of our state should be treasured and celebrated. I believe our state institutions should include Mexican American Studies as a discipline.
What are your ideas to help juveniles and improve the juvenile system? Explain
First we need to make sure 17 year olds are not classified as adults in the justice system. Secondly, we need a full evaluation of the system with an eye to solutions other states have used with success. We must assure that our juvenile justice system works for the benefit of the young people in it. They should emerge with a brighter future and not tainted with the expectation that they are beyond help. That means investing in the system.
Are you supporting other statewide candidates or county-wide candidates? Explain.
We regularly bring other candidates into our events and provide them with time to get their message out. Texas will turn blue only if we all work together.
What are your ideas to support senior citizens? Explain.
First, I would encourage our Congress to stop tampering with Social Security. I also think at a state level we can do more to make sure quality health care is available to all senior citizens. I am very interested to see how the move of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services to HHS will affect the programs already in place. It is vital we protect this growing and vulnerable population.
Texas Coalition of Black Democrats
Over the past 40 years African Americans have supported democratic candidates with approximately 88% of our votes. How will electing/re-electing you benefit African Americans in Texas?
Democratic candidates have long considered votes from the African-American community a “given”. In Texas, the alternatives are usually pretty dismal in regards not to just African-Americans but any minority. I don’t believe I can take those votes for granted any more. I intend to work with members of the African-American community to craft policies that can assure equitable access to voting and state services. I also plan to examine and take steps to rectify the overwhelming imbalance in our judicial systems. Far too many young black men are incarcerated and given short-shift by the justice system. I am keenly aware of the problem of police violence against African-Americans and will make it a point to create a statewide investigation into the problem. Texas must become a state where all our citizens have access to education, fair employment and health care. The African-American community has not received the even-handed treatment they deserve and it’s time to change that.
In the 2016 election, 94% of African American women voted for the democratic nominee for President. How will you work to help this key constituency close the gender pay gap? Reduce skyrocketing maternal deaths in Texas? Provide equal opportunity to access capital to start a business?
The gender gap in pay is not acceptable in Texas. As governor I would support strict enforcement of the Texas Equal Pay Act for all state employees and the Federal Equal Pay Act for employers engaged in interstate commerce. I would also encourage our legislature to reintroduce a bill similar to HB228 which was vetoed by Governor Rick Perry. This bill simply states that all Texans should receive equal pay for equal work. I am not sure why that concept is so hard to grasp.
The maternal death rate in Texas is unacceptable, it rivals some third-world countries and that is appalling. We must accept the Medicaid funding offered by the Federal Government and we must also work with existing organizations like Planned Parenthood to re-establish a viable system of reproductive care centers across the state and end the sham Healthy Texas Women’s program.
Encouraging small business in the African-American community and beyond is something in which I am vitally interested. As a small business person myself I understand the challenges in attracting capital and starting a small business. I sincerely believe Texas needs to offer the same tax incentives to small business startups as we do to large corporations. We also need to provide incentives and assistance for under-served communities. I would encourage creating a state-sanctioned business incubator program for minority communities as well as other tactics to nourish entrepreneurship.
Education is the key to help individuals lift themselves from poverty into prosperity, however African American students exceed the national average in Texas, with 60% living in poverty. What will you do to strengthen our public education system?
Our state education system is underfunded and the method of funding it is not equitable. The state must provide funds for schools in accordance to our state constitution. We must have an equitable finance system and we cannot rely on the “Robin Hood” plan any longer. We also must reject any attempts at a “voucher” system which is merely a way to divert already limited funds away from quality public education. I am a firm believer we must put education back in the hands of professional educators and take it out of the hands of politicians.
African American entrepreneurs have long struggled to secure capital to start businesses in our community. What economic development initiatives will you champion that will have a direct and positive impact African Americans businesses, employment and entrepreneurship?
As I previously mentioned I believe some sort of minority business incubator program would be advantageous. Additionally, we need to look at giving small businesses the same kind of tax incentives as the large corporations in our state. Texas small businesses employ far more people than the large corporations. It’s time we treated them with the respect and encouragement they deserve.
Gentrification is a major issue affecting residents throughout Texas. What will you do to support preserving African American culture and history across Texas, particularly in neighborhoods where gentrification is occurring revitalizing neighborhoods, but pushing our people out?
I believe our communities are a big part of our heritage. I would like to see neighborhoods like the South Boulevard/Park Row Historic district preserved and restored, but more than that, I feel we must protect the character of our neighborhoods. That means working with local officials to prevent developers from aggressively revamping a vibrant neighborhood for the benefit of only a few affluent people. In the LGBT community we have seen this first hand. The Cedar Springs/Oak Lawn neighborhood has recently undergone a burst of gentrification which has threatened the cohesion of the area. New developments are bringing in people who neither understand nor appreciate the character if the area.
Please explain your belief about the importance of diversity in Texas and in our nation. What portion of your senior campaign staff is African American? Do you have any African American consultants? Have you purchased advertising at any African American owned media companies?
Texas strength comes from the rich tapestry that are our people. The diversity of Texas is what gives our state its character. My campaign staff is still not fully staffed, but we have a wide representation of people from veterans, to children of immigrants and women. We are working to reach out to all communities across the state and as we move deeper into the campaign I feel sure we will be enlisting the services of consultants from the African-American community.
Criminal justice reform is a high priority for our community. The negative impact of laws currently on the book affect all communities of color and all people who live in poverty. What do see as the biggest challenges facing repairing the criminal justice system? Please provide your stance on bail reform, sentencing on non-violent drug offenses, ending pre-investigatory traffic stops? What initiatives would you lead the way on in your position as an elected official?
As I previously stated, the disproportionate incarceration and prosecution of African-American Texans is unacceptable. Non-violent offenses, specifically drug-related must be treated in a equitable way. It is obvious that the criminal justice system is weighted against people of color. As far as the euphemism of “Pre-investigatory traffic stops”, they are nothing more than racial profiling and making it a crime to be “driving while black or brown” cannot be tolerated any more in Texas. I will work with the state Attorney General to investigate what I believe is systematic abuse of Texans of color.
Quality affordable healthcare, which includes mental health care is a vital need for the African American community. Too many in our community have died from and lack treatment for treatable illnesses because the lacked the means to seek treatment. Do you believe healthcare is a right that all Americans should have access to? How do we repair our defective healthcare system? Is single payer the answer? Do we just tweak the Affordable Healthcare Act? Do you have a fresh idea to make healthcare a reality for all Texans?
Healthcare is a right not a privilege. If the federal government can’t fix the problem, Texas needs to investigate a solution. Single-payer is a valid system that works in pretty much the rest of the developed world and we should look to states like California and Massachusetts for ideas. It will not be easy. The insurance lobby has great sway in Texas, but I believe we must take steps to begin creating a system that works for all Texans.
African American communities lack healthy eating options. We lack grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables, students who cannot afford to pay for lunch at school are shamed in front of their peers. What actions would you take to help spur business investment to get grocery stores within our communities to fill this void? How do we ensure our students in school get a healthy meal without being traumatized because they lack the funds because they are living in poverty?
A robust school lunch program is a must. There are children who do not eat lunch when school is not in session. To help with the stigma of this I would propose a lunch card for all students. For those with means to pay, they can be purchased. For those without the means, they would be provided. It is an option we need to explore to destigmatize the program. Healthy food options in the community could be addressed in the programs to incubate small businesses in the communities. Looking at tax incentives for businesses carrying fresh produce might be an option. Making fresh healthy food available is vital to all Texans.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas
Why are you seeking endorsement from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas?
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas have a big impact on the voting of LGBTQ Dallasites and getting your endorsement would have a positive impact on my campaign.
List some of your qualifications and experiences pertinent to the office you are seeking.
I have considerable experience when I worked as a mediator with the Department of Labor. It is a field I excel at and can bring people together to solve common issues. I have started and grown five diverse businesses. I understand how to motivate people and how to get things done in an efficient manner. Because of the diversity of my businesses I have a lot of experience in different disciplines from Human Resources to Money Management to Public Relations. I also understand how to balance a budget, something our state could use some improvement with. I have a passion to make the lives of all Texans better and I feel as Governor I will be in a position to influence policies to do just that.
Once you are elected, what are some of your plans specific to your office’s responsibilities?
The governor’s office can only convene the legislature, sign or veto bills, but the governor can influence the agenda and set the tone for a session. I plan to use that power to influence the policies I have set forth and to work for all Texans. I can also appoint key positions in the state government and with that power I can have additional influence.
What are your plans to support or participate in a coordinated campaign in the general election in Dallas County?
I will work with the party and local officials to advance the Democratic ticket in Dallas County and across the state. I will support and work on behalf of the Democratic candidates in Dallas County and other counties across the state. I will include them wherever possible in my post-primary rallies and speeches, giving them recognition and mic time where possible.
Will you use Stonewall Democrats of Dallas endorsement in or on:
I feel the Stonewall endorsement is a valuable one and I will be proud to let Texans know about it.
When elected how will you recruit, retain, and create a friendly environment for LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly staff?
My staff is predominately LGBTQ now. As an openly gay man I am acutely aware of toxic atmospheres and will strive to maintain a culture that is welcoming to all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Would you be willing to appoint a liaison to meet with the LGBTQ community on an ongoing basis?
My office will be open to all Texans regardless of their sexual orientation. I would be willing to appoint a liaison with the LGBTQ community to keep an open channel of communication.
Will you be willing to lead or support efforts to develop an LGBTQ task force or commission at the state level similar to the structures and missions developed at the city level?
I would be very interested in creating such a task force at the state level.
If Applicable, would you lead or support the efforts to teach comprehensive sexual education in Texas?
Sex education in our state is appalling. We cannot teach abstinence only and expect to equip our young people for responsible adulthood. Comprehensive sex education will be a difficult task, but I feel I am up to it and would propose including it in the curriculum for Texas students in Middle and High School.
How would you lead or support state legislation and /or constitutional amendments pertaining to:
LGBTQ couples adopting and providing foster care?
Removing any restrictions based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity from foster care requirements is common sense. We need more foster parents and if they happen to be LGBTQ it should not be a factor in their suitability.
Support the repeal of the sodomy law that was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court?
21.06 must be removed from the books. It is unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Support safe schools for LGBTQ students?
All Texas students must be able to feel safe at school and I support measures that assure that safety. Bullying will not be tolerated for any reason. Support the repeal of the Texas Marriage/Civil Union Amendment. The Texas Family Code section that makes same-sex marriages void is a toothless law designed to pander to a voter base. It has no business in our state and should be repealed since it was negated by the Supreme Court.
How would you address the recent trend of the state governments adding medically unnecessary procedures to the course of treatment pertaining to women’s health?
The Transvaginal Ultrasound mandate and any other medically invasive and unnecessary procedure required strictly to promote an anti-abortion agenda will receive my veto. A woman’s medical decisions are up to her and her doctor, not the Texas Legislature.
What would you do to support and assist people with mental illness who must rely on the public system for care in or out of incarceration?
This question speaks to the larger one of healthcare for all Texans. The fact that often Texans who are incarcerated get better health care than those who are not is a telling example of the paradoxes in our healthcare system. Texas must not neglect the health of its citizens, especially those who suffer from mental illness. I would propose finding funding to assure that any Texan can receive the care they need regardless of ability to pay. Healthcare is a right not a privilege.
How would you lead or support efforts to provide better funding for health care and better health care for all Texas residents? Would you support an ACA Medicaid expansion in Texas?
The Affordable Care Act is a good start, but I believe we can do better. If the Federal Government is not going to act to assure adequate health care for all citizens, then I would propose Texas explore ways to do it ourselves.
How would you lead or support legislation comparable to the proposed federal Equality Act providing employment and residence non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ citizens by the Texas State Legislature?
I would strongly encourage our legislature to bring similar legislation to the floor. All Texans deserve protection from discrimination. As Governor I would be glad to sign such legislation into law. Additionally I would be in a position to appoint numerous officials who can help shape legislation and regulations in our state.
What specific ideas do you have and/or what current legislation would you support to improve our state economy and address income inequality and growing poverty in Texas?
While raising the minimum wage in Texas is important I do not think it is enough. One measure I would encourage would be a “Livable Wage” bill. An across the board minimum wage in a state as big as Texas would be inadequate. I would like to see minimum wages determined on a county by county basis using a combination of cost of living and property values as a baseline. Creating a formula to provide all Texans with an income that is livable and not just a minimum is essential. Providing adequate and affordable health care is a second way to reduce the income inequality in our state.
How would you handle a situation in which you or a subordinate felt the need to not fulfill all the lawful work duties of the office due to “deeply held religious beliefs"?
Personal religious beliefs should not interfere with a person’s obligations to their job. If a person has beliefs that would interfere with their abilities to carry out the job, they should seek employment elsewhere. The “deeply held religious belief” criteria is a thinly veiled attempt to discriminate against minorities and is a cynical measure which is unenforceable.
How would you lead or support legislation restoring public education funding in Texas that was dramatically cut after the 2008 recession?
Getting corporations to pay their fair share of property taxes would go a long way toward funding our education system. It is the obligation of the state to provide a quality education for all Texas children and I would lead the initiative to provide adequate resources for our educators.
How would you address unfunded mandates in education?
The state should not mandate any rulings about education without providing adequate funding. Forcing school districts to scrape together money for legislature ordered testing, etc. is unfair and damages our educational system.
How would you lead or support legislation restoring the previous funding for HIV prevention in Texas?
I would urge restoration HIV Prevention funding throughout our state and support efforts to expand it to all segments of our population. The growth of HIV in Texas is alarming and especially in minority communities. The rate of African-American males living with an HIV diagnosis is 4.1 times that of white males and the rate of African-American females living with HIV is 14.7 times that of white females. There is a higher rate in the Hispanic/Latinx community as well. Education and access to treatment and preventative measures would go a long way toward stemming this growth.
Would you require Sexual Harassment Training for yourself and your staff? Would you lead or support legislation to require mandatory sexual harassment and equal Employment Opportunity training similar to the resolution that was passed in the US Senate?
Requiring Anti-harassment and Equal Opportunity training is both affordable and obvious. I would support this for all state employees and officials. Additionally I would propose a zero-tolerance policy for all state officials in regards to sexual harassment.
What are your ideas on immigration enforcement reform?
Our border should be secure and I will work with the federal government to assure its security. The cost of securing our border is a Federal responsibility and any expenditures we as a state lay out should be reimbursed by the Federal government. The majority of undocumented immigrants came into Texas legally and overstayed their visas. Though some do cross unprotected sections of the border, they are not flooding across as the common myth would imply. The fact is, as of a 2009 estimate by Homeland Security, 1.68 million undocumented immigrants are living in Texas. These people for the most part are working and contributing to the Texas economy. We must face that fact and understand that we cannot simply put them on buses and send them back to where they came from. We must work to find ways to give them a path to citizenship if they are law abiding and bring them into our state’s system. That is the best way to deal with the issue, because otherwise we will just be throwing money and effort at something that is actually a benefit to our state’s economy.
What are your ideas to respond to evidence of climate change?
Climate change is real and there is ample evidence it is caused by human activity. I would encourage the growth of renewable energy and work to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel. Texas has abundant sunlight and wind that can become an even greater source of energy than our mineral wealth. Oil and its byproducts are far too valuable for lubrication and chemicals and other products to simply burn it. We must phase out the use of coal and encourage new technologies to fill the gaps in renewable sources. I would like to see Texas become a leader in not just wind and solar power production but power storage research and technologies. As Governor I would appoint a committee of scientists and industry leaders to fulfill this great potential.
How would you address voter suppression in Texas and work to expand voting by eligible voters?
I would reinstate the “Motor Voter” law as originally intended not as it has been used as a way to limit voting. As Governor I will veto any bill that reaches my desk intended to suppress voting or in any way limit access to the polls.
Is there anything in your past or background that has not been covered by the previous questions that might – without careful explanation- cause our organization to reconsider or withdraw our endorsement of you?
I have no criminal records and no pending litigation or actions that would prec;ude me from an endorsement. I have been completely open about my sexual orientation and my involvement in the LGBTQ community and am proud of my achievements and record.
Stonewall Democrats of Austin
Do you wish to receive the endorsement of the Stonewall Democrats of Austin?
Yes I do.
Should you receive this endorsement, would you publicize our endorsement in your campaign advertisements and campaign literature?
Please tell us why you are seeking the endorsement of Stonewall? Do you have a history of publicly supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) issues? If so please briefly describe this history.
Stonewall Democrats of Austin have a big impact on the voting of LGBTQ Texans and getting your endorsement would have a positive impact on my campaign. Being openly gay and being involved in the Dallas LGBT Community for several years I have supported LGBTQ causes and organizations for years. Through fundraising efforts of my nightclub, The Dallas Eagle, we have raised almost $500,000 for LGBTQ organizations and events.
Why are you seeking this public office?
Back in July of this year I spoke with my husband Sergio and discussed the need for a progressive candidate to oppose the current Governor. After the “Bathroom Bill” battle and the tremendous waste of time and money by our legislature on an issue that was a non-crisis, I felt it was time to do something. I felt the Governor’s office would be a good place to start to actually enact change in our state. With a legislature that is packed with far-right Republicans starting at the top seemed more logical. The governor’s office can only convene the legislature, sign or veto bills, but the governor can influence the agenda and set the tone for a session. I plan to use that power to influence the policies I have set forth and to work for all Texans. The governor also appoints a number of powerful positions which I can use to influence the direction in which our state is moving.
Would you advocate for and support a state law that would prohibit employment discrimination against LGBT individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity?
Absolutely. Putting those protections into law is essential to every LGBTQ Texans quality of life.
Would you advocate for and support a state law that would prohibit discrimination against or harassment of LGBT students or teachers in Texas public schools on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity?
Again, Absolutely. Students in Texas need to be safe and free from bullying and discrimination of any kind.
In December 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case from the Texas Supreme Court that ruled that the Obergefell v. Hodges decision did not guarantee same-sex couples the same employee benefits as their straight counterparts. Do you agree with this decision? If elected what steps would you take to ensure all employees are treated fairly in matters of compensation?
That decision is flawed. Employee benefits cannot be determined on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, that creates a second class citizenship and that runs contrary to the constitution. I would encourage passing protectinos and measures to assure LGBTQ Texans who are legally married receive the same benefits as those who are in opposite-sex marriages.
Do you support LGBT foster or adoptive parents (prospective or current) having the same rights and protections afforded under current law to heterosexual foster or adoptive parents (prospective or current)? Would you advocate for and support such a state law?
Again, absolutely. Having been a product of the foster system in Louisiana, I understand how important it is and we should not limit the rights of LGBTQ foster parents. I would advocate fiercely for that law.
If elected, how would you stay informed of the concerns and interests of your LGBT constituents?
This goes without saying. I am part of this community, and just as I have for the last 20+ years, I will continue to support, communicate with and promote the LGBT community.
Have you attended other events in the LGBT community? Which events?
I have attended and sponsored too many events to list. My involvement in the Dallas LGBTQ community has been well publicized.
NEW BAY AREA DEMOCRATS OF TEXAS
Why am I running for governor and why I am best suited to be the candidate of choice for the Democratic Party?
I am running for Governor of Texas for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is bring some sanity back to Texas politics. For too long we have had a legislature and rubber stamp Governor who has consistently passed laws that do little to benefit all Texans and do everything to benefit a few select businesses and individuals. Additionally, we consistently waste time and money debating bills that serve no purpose other than discriminate against Texans. That is not a role I will play as Governor. I intend to be a governor for all Texans and one who works with the legislature to enact laws that are for the overall good of the state. I will not hesitate to use the power of the veto to stop actions that are patently discriminatory or simple pork-barrel politics. I am a businessman, and as such I can bring a work ethic that is missing from our state capitol. I believe all Texans are investors and stakeholders in this state and I intend to get them something in return for that investment.
What is my political background? What is my voting history? Do I always vote? What prior offices have I held or campaigned for? What partisan affiliation did you claim while running for offices?
I am a Democrat. I come to this race with no previous history of politics and as such I do not owe any favors to any one faction or contributor. I always vote, it is my obligation as a citizen.
How many votes do you think it will take to win my campaign? How many have been historically achieved in this race? What is my plan to be successful? Who have you already hired to be on your campaign staff and what additional spots do I intend on filling with paid personnel before the primary and before the general election?
In the last gubernatorial election Greg Abbott received 2,790,289 votes to Wendy Davis’ 1,832,553. She lost by almost a million votes. Voter turnout was anemic when compared to the General Election in 2016. The key will be get out the vote efforts and especially with younger voters. I also plan to concentrate on areas of the state with high minority voter populations. To reach these voters our campaign sees a greater reliance on digital media and outdoor advertising as well as traditional direct mail.
Our campaign staff already has full time media director, field operations, social media, volunteer coordinator and campaign manager positions filled. We intend to staff up further after the primaries and will be utilizing a variety of paid consultants for specific projects. We will also review the hiring of an advertising agency for the general campaign.
What is my plan for job creation? What kind of jobs are possible to be created and how will I accomplish this?
One way I feel we can increase jobs in Texas is by giving the same incentives to small businesses as we do to large corporations. I will continue and grow the Texas Economic Development Corporation (TXEDC) & The Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism (EDT). These groups offer small business loans and education for Texans and those moving to Texas.
What is my view of the current tax system for Texas and what would I change?
Several problems exist with our current methods of taxation. First the property tax system used to finance our schools. The state has an obligation to finance education in Texas, it’s on our State Constitution, yet our legislature pushes that off to local school districts. I would propose a small raise in gasoline tax to help fund education. I would also eliminate the “Robin Hood” plan that exists now.
Do I think we are doing enough to protect the environment? What do I think about renewable energy sources?
Texas is #3 in heaviest polluted. And #1 in most carbon produced 709 metric tons but #2 per capita behind California. However, Texas is #4 in Green Energy. We have been adding wind capacity at a healthy clip and is the only state in the top five where hydro isn’t the number one renewable source. Wind power accounts for all but 1 GW of the 10.985 GW renewable capacity. We must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and encourage renewable energy production as well as seek strategies to fill the gaps in the grid where renewable sources like wind and solar are lacking. For now natural gas is the most reliable resource for this, but I would propose exploring large capacity electrical storage strategies such as the ones being pioneered in Australia.
Do we need to improve education? What do we need to do to alter the existing education system?
Education in Texas is in trouble. I believe we need to put education back in the hands of professional educators and out of the hands of politicians. The Current STARR Tests are not improving our kids thinking. Because “No Child Left Behind” rules and regulations, we must test our kids, but Texas can still decide how. The current Tests have teachers teaching to a test that is confusing and burdensome to them. Jeffrey believes that teachers should be allowed to teach and install critical think along with practical knowledge to our children. Vouchers are a scam, and have no place in taking money away from a public funded and regulated school, so the money can be spent on a private unregulated school. Education plays such an important part in the future of our State it is impossible encapsulate our full policy in just a few lines. I will be happy to expound on this subject in person.
What is my position on health care in Texas? What would I change?
First, we need to accept any and all Medicaid funds being offered by the federal government to augment our state programs. Additionally we must maintain the CHIP program and stop using it as a political football. Our children’s health is too important. Women’s health care in Texas is sadly lacking. The cynically titled program, ‘Healthy Texas Women’, are state sponsored clinics which have done a dismal job of helping women. Currently, we have more clinics yet serve less women. Women are being assigned to these “clinics” with little or no idea what the clinic really is. These clinics have less options and fewer educational programs than the clinics we lost. Texas does not need any more “men only” panels making laws that affect women’s health.. Making sure that women are on the panels that discuss Healthcare issues is common sense, especially if the issue affects a woman’s body.
What does the word “equality” mean to me as a candidate?
That question would take a book to answer and even then it would be insufficient. I can start by saying that all Texans deserve the same opportunities and the same treatment no matter what race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or political affiliation. Any discussion of equality should include discussion of racial injustice. We must acknowledge that it exists in our state. We must also acknowledge that it damages our people and our economy. The foundation of racial justice is built on three pillars, unfettered access to voting, economic equality in terms of jobs and career advancement and access to higher education. Without justice at the ballot box, in the workplace and in education, the systematic discrimination against people of color and immigrants will continue. Texas is blessed with an amazing diversity of people. Each bring their own energy, talent and strengths and we must embrace that diversity for our state is to truly live up to its potential.
What is my opinion on DACA? Is immigration reform needed?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival is an important act that brings young people who had no part in their status as undocumented immigrants and who are living and studying in our state. I believe we must continue to work with Congress to get this bill back in force and to give the “Dreamers” an opportunity to contribute to our state’s economy. Studies have shown that the program had a positive effect on the lives of these young people and it should not be rescinded. I firmly believe we need immigration reform. The large numbers of undocumented immigrants in Texas contribute to our states economy and well being and they should have a viable path to citizenship.
Science and technology have been responsible for half the growth of the U.S. economy since World War II. What role, if any, should government play in stimulating innovative science and technology so we continue to benefit from them.
The spirit of innovation and discovery have always been the driving forces in the growth and progress of our state, from NASA to our Military Complex to investments in finding cures. Science and Technology have always been the cutting edge of that innovation and should be encouraged and supported wisely by the government. State and National support for applied science as well as fundamental research is crucial to keeping our state and country moving forward. Invest through educational institutes is key to better students and a better Texas.
What are your views on climate change and what kind of energy strategies would you support?
Human caused climate change is real, we have seen it here in droughts, flooding, and coastal wear. The quicker we get past this fake controversy the better we can mitigate these effects: By enforcing rules and regulation through tougher penalties that at least cover the State’s cost in healthcare service. By continuing to grow our electrical grid into the wind, solar & hydro fields. By encouraging research into new problems of electrical storage, similar to Australia working with Tesla Corp. By making sure that Texas’ finite oil supply and the oil industry are cleaner, more efficient, and used effectively.
What will you do to protect America from cyber attacks while also protecting personal privacy?
A comprehensive cyber security policy is critical. Though we have an existing cyber security council now, we must continue to bolster this important defense. We must implement a system to secure our public and governmental networks while maintaining the robust flow of information that our country and civilization has come to rely upon. Particular attention must be paid to the rights and privacy of individuals as we do this. We cannot sacrifice freedom and privacy at the altar of security. It will not be a simple task but Texas has shown we are already ready to pursue it. Our nuclear power plants have already been through this assessment. I will continue to work with the Federal Government (National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (H.R. 1731) 2015) and our Cyber Council, in making sure that what has started in San Antonio continues to grow.
Mental illness often leads to drug addiction, crime, and suicide and costs America more than $300 billion a year. What mental health policies will you support if you are elected?
We must make mental health services affordable and available to all Texans. Diagnosing and treating mental health issues early prevents suffering and prevents greater problems if left untreated. Even though we have taken great strides during the 85th Texas Legislature (about 10 bills dealing with mental health were passed), there is much more that can be done. We must fund mental health services just like any other health related service. I firmly believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
In an age dominated by complex science and technology, how can we ensure that students receive adequate STEM education?
T‐STEM is an ever‐growing part of Texas education along with a balance of a well‐rounded programs that include critical thinking, language, history and culture. I will continue the Governor’s Science & Technology Champions Academy and Summer Merit Camps through The Texas Workforce Commission. I will also bring in more participation from the Private Sector. Apple is helping to develop code programs/classes in Austin, so why can’t we get Dell, Exxon and other companies to help drive students into fields that they will need filled in the future. We need to encourage the next generation of teachers are obtaining their STEM Certifications too.
The long-term security of water supplies is threatened by aging infrastructure, pollution, climate variability and a growing population. What should government do to ensure access to clean water?
Our state depends on an abundant supply of clean water. Implementing a recent study can assure that through responsible conservation by cities and rural farmers, smarter reuse programs, larger/more surface retention, and by reinforcing, expanding and modernizing the infrastructure to deliver it can make sure every Texan has clean water. Texas must also take steps to mitigate the pollution or our waterways from agriculture and industry. I would like to see a quicker path from the Municipalities to start projects, if we could cut start time down to 2 years instead of 5, we would be much more proactive. Some Proposition 6 projects haven’t even started.
How would you manage American agriculture so it provides healthy, and affordable food grown in a just and sustainable way?
Texas is a leading producer of agricultural products. We produce more livestock than any other state and is second in the country in total agricultural products. Texas also has more women and minority farm operations than any other state in the nation. We must maintain our agricultural industry but do it in a sustainable way by continuing our research programs in our colleges. Relying on excessive antibiotics has led to unexpected super‐resistant diseases. Use of antibiotic on Texas livestock needs to be examined and perhaps regulated. Our Grants and Programs should continue, and hopefully we can expand the Organic Cost Share Reimbursement Program.
What should America's goals be for space exploration and earth observation and what steps would you take to achieve them?
Texas has a deep connection to space research and exploration. The benefits of the past robust space program have been positive for our state. I believe we must invest more time and effort into continuing space exploration using both private and public funding. Replacing our aging satellite infrastructure is key to maintaining ongoing weather and climate research, and working toward more manned space exploration may be the future of our long‐term survival.
Large areas of our oceans are polluted, acidification is damaging coral reefs and other habitats, and overfishing could wipe out certain species and diminish this vital source of food. What will you do to improve ocean health?
Texas is blessed with the sixth longest coastline in our nation. The health of the oceans is vital to not only Texas fisheries but to our health and welfare. I will make sure that those who are impacted by the rules and regulations of shrimping, crabbing and oyster culls, etc., will have input and receive the same information we have, this way we can help each other’s bottom line. We must avoid over‐fishing and monitor the health of the Gulf of Mexico. We must reduce offshore drilling pollution and for a state like Texas that will be a big step. I would like to see the continual restoration of our reefs. We need to invest in finding better biodegradable plastic, and limit the use of plastic bags and six pack holders. We need to examine the impact of plastic glitter in our Texas waterways, and beach fronts.
Politicians are disputing settled science and firing government scientists for political reasons. How will you foster a culture that respects scientific evidence and protects scientists?
Politicians have no business trying to control scientific inquiry simply because the outcome might disagree with their beliefs. Scientists should be free to pursue and report their findings without fear of reprisal by politicians. A robust program of state and privately funded science will assure that our state is a leader in knowledge and innovation. People need to know that without scientist, we would have not been to the moon, we will not have shrimp to eat, we will not have prepared employees coming out of our schools, nor we will have the ability to adapt to the ever‐changing energy sector. With the new standards, “Fostering Integrity in Research” coming out, scientist should have a better sway over politicians and their own credibility. When we have an open and honest public discussion with scientist, then I feel both sides gain integrity.
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