Republican contender for District 49 pushes for legalized marijuana, privatized education

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Photo Credit: Rena Li | Daily Texan Staff

As the Republican contender for the Texas House District 49, which encompasses UT, Kyle Austin said running for office is the biggest thing he’s done. 

The 25-year-old Austin native is challenging freshman Democratic incumbent Gina Hinojosa. He said his platform is about protecting the rights of individuals rather addressing social and economic groups. 

“Focus on the individual, and you cover everyone,” Austin said. “If you focus on groups, then you exclude certain people. But if you focus on the individual, then everyone is included, no matter who they are.” .

Two of Austin’s primary policy interests are full legalization of marijuana, which goes against many Republican beliefs, and privatization of all public education. And he said the right to own guns and marijuana are important liberties Texans should have.

“It’s really important because the drug war has been a complete failure since day one,” Austin said. “It’s as terrible as Prohibition. We see all these people that are producers of value being put in jail because they essentially own property.”

If elected, Kyle said he will try to expedite the process of legalization. 

“I don’t want to see weed legal in 50 years,” Austin said. “I want to see it legal next year.”

Austin briefly attended UT-San Antonio, where he said he became angry at the exorbitant prices of textbooks and cost of living. By privatizing public K-12 and higher education, Austin said property taxes will go down and student housing costs will decrease. 

“The government has done a terrible job with providing education as efficiently as possible,” Austin said. “More privatization equals more competition in the market, which increases equality for regular people.”

After realizing he was spending hours in conversations with friends discussing his “philosophical ideas” but without anything substantial coming from them, Austin said he made the decision to run for Texas Representative for District 49. 

“I was like, ‘Why don’t I just try to get in the political game, see what it’s like and maybe have the ability to do a little more about those ideas?’” Austin said. 

Austin said although he knows his odds of winning are low, he has two things going for him: his consistency on issues and a clear-sighted self-awareness.  

“I know chances are I’m probably going to end up losing, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” Austin said. “Either way, I understand where I am, and that’s more than I can say about other politicians.”