Texas statewide candidates come together for a town hall

Eilish O'Sullivan

On Sunday, Democratic candidates running for office in Texas came together for the first time to answer questions from Latinx youth.

 “We are the least likely to have health care in the state, we are the least likely to go to good schools,” said Cristina Tzintzun, founder and executive director of Jolt. “We are the least likely to graduate college. We are the most likely, among with our African-American brothers and sisters, to have the power of our voice and vote suppressed.”

 Jolt Texas, an organization focused on giving Latinxs a voice in Texas politics, hosted the town hall to energize young Latinx voters ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The town hall participants included Miguel Suazo, Andrew White, Lupe Valdez and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rouke, D-El Paso, who spoke to a crowd of about 100 people. 

 Suazo, an energy attorney, is running for Texas Land Commissioner, which manages state land to raise money for public schools.

 “These people are underappreciated, our schools are underfunded and our current land commissioner is not getting the resources … that they need in order for us to have a thriving educational system,” Suazo said.

During the event, an audience member asked gubernatorial candidate Valdez if she would continue what they referred to as “anti-immigrant” policies from her time as Dallas County Sheriff, accusing her of being compliant with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement crackdowns on immigrants in the area.

“I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can,” Valdez said. “I believe in a comprehensive immigration reform.”

On Sunday evening, Jolt endorsed Valdez’s competitor White for governor. 

At the event, White said he is tired of the “extremism” coming from current administration’s rhetoric surrounding issues such as immigration reform.

 “Let me tell you something, facts always beat fear,” White said. “This extremism has … been sort of a gift to our party. The blue wave is happening and it’s happening here in Texas.”

When asked about the children of undocumented immigrants in America, O’Rouke said he supports initiating an easier path to citizenship. 

“(Undocumented immigrants) are already working the toughest, the most essential jobs that no native-born American is willing to do,” said O’Rourke, who is running for Texas Senate against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz. “Imagine what they could contribute if they were here as full U.S. citizens actively engaging in civil life, just like we are doing right now.”