Where would you expect to find a candidate for State Representative on a Monday? Perhaps a fundraiser or a speaking engagement. Or, in the case of HD-49 candidate Huey Fischer, spending 17 hours on campus registering hundreds of students to vote. I met Fischer, 23, who is running in the Democratic primary for Texas House District 49, at 10 p.m. on Monday night. He was 15 hours into his shift registering voters on campus and was strolling through the PCL, reminding students to register to vote before the midnight deadline. This serves as just one indication of how seriously he views student engagement, not only his campaign for House but in the electoral process as a whole.
As rates of student participation in the electoral process remain stubbornly low, it is commendable to see a candidate for State Representative work to harness the power of students. As Fischer put it, it makes sense for a candidate for State Representative in Central Austin to focus on students: “Young people are not being represented in the Capitol properly. If I am elected, I would be the only House member under 30. … Tuition is on the rise at UT, rent is going up and the legislature is not responsive to our needs, forcing things on us that we don’t want. Students are turning out in this election and are going to decide on a candidate who best reflects their values.”
Fischer is banking on enthusiasm among Democratic college students for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders to give him momentum down ballot — and is hoping to demonstrate to progressive students at UT that he is the torchbearer for their causes. That is clearly the case. His platform points include advocating for lower student debt and better management of public universities, combatting homelessness and mental illness amongst LGBT youth and raising the state minimum wage.
While these may seem pie-in-the-sky in a state decisively controlled by Republicans, Fischer argues that the Legislature needs the fighter for progressive causes that it currently lacks.
“I’m going to be the most liberal member [of the Texas House]. [HD-49] is the most liberal district — it deserves the most liberal member. I’m tired of seeing Democrats play defense against the Republicans. It hasn’t worked.”
Texas students would be wise to consider Fischer — not only does he have extensive experience working in the Texas Legislature as an aide. He is the only candidate who has clearly shown he prioritizes the University and its students. Given the rising costs for students and the issues of race across the campus and state, Fischer would be a smart choice. He is not far removed from the University where he spent his four years on the 40 Acres as a student activist, working to register students to vote and getting them engaged in the political process.
While Fischer’s opponents — perhaps most notably AISD trustee Gina Hinojosa and UT law professor Heather Way — have progressive bona fides of their own, only Fischer has the experience in the legislature and campus connections to make him the most competitive candidate for UT students. Even more importantly, Fischer is the only candidate who understands that the heart of HD-49 — the University of Texas — deserves to be engaged at the same level as neighborhood associations and chamber of commerce meetings. Wouldn’t it be nice if all our candidates for elected office recognized that?
Fountain is a government senior from Pelham Manor, NY. Follow Fountain on Twitter @wf_atx.