Tomorrow is your last chance to vote in the 2020 primaries. For Austin, Travis County and many of Austin’s congressional districts, UT Austin students are a critical — and growing — voting bloc. In the 2018 midterms, 54% of UT’s over 50,000 students voted. In 2020, that number is sure to be higher.
In our state and local elections, we’re looking for candidates dedicated to fundamentally changing Texas and the United States to create a more equitable society. Our generation is facing $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, skyrocketing healthcare and rent costs, increasing bigotry and intolerance, and the threat of climate collapse happening within our lifetimes. That is why we focused on including and endorsing candidates dedicated to the structural change needed to address — and solve — these issues.
U.S. Senate: Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez
After Beto O’Rourke’s now-famous 2018 campaign against Ted Cruz, the 2020 Democratic primary field for U.S. Senate is especially crowded. Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez stands out for her impressive track record as a leader in organizing for Texas workers as co-founder of the Workers Defense Project, and Texas’ Latino population through Jolt. These advocacy points are emphasized in her Senate campaign, along with unapologetic support for many progressive policies, including Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and paid parental leave. Her support of student-debt cancellation and tuition-free public universities also makes her campaign appealing, especially on a campus where 37% of incoming students depend on student loans to pay their tuition.
Railroad Commissioner: Kelly Stone
Don’t let the name fool you — the three Texas Railroad Commissioners’ primary job is to regulate the oil and gas industry in Texas. Unsurprisingly, then, Texas’ Railroad Commissioners often have intimate ties with the oil industry, which has benefited corporate interests to the detriment of our planet and our state. Kelly Stone, an environmental activist and Green New Deal supporter, would be a welcome advocate against the fossil fuel industry, pollution and environmental racism. While she would be outnumbered by the other two commissioners (both of whom have deep ties to the oil and gas industry), her activism would be a good start to curtailing the stranglehold oil and gas have over the state.
TX-25: Heidi Sloan
On paper, Heidi Sloan and Julie Oliver have similar platforms. Both support Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and major housing affordability reform. Where Sloan and Oliver differ, however, is in their broader theory of change. While Oliver seems to want to work solely within the system, Sloan understands a congresswoman’s power both as a legislator and as an organizer of a movement to challenge the interests of the ruling class. Her organizing skill has already been demonstrated in the impressive turnout of her campaign’s canvassing events — which have already knocked on over 90,000 doors in the district. Because of her dedication to a broader working class movement to fight for change, we endorse Heidi Sloan for Texas’ 25th Congressional District.
TX-10: Mike Siegel
After performing surprisingly well against incumbent Republican Michael McCaul in 2018, civil rights lawyer Mike Siegel is once again the best choice for Texas’ 10th congressional district. Siegel brings to the race a history of defending clients against employers and the state, and a platform that includes Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, expanding labor rights and tackling student loan debt. Not only does Siegel have the best policy proposals, but a track record of fighting for the reality his platform outlines. Because of this, he has our endorsement.
53rd District Attorney: José Garza
José Garza, former federal public defender and executive director of the Workers Defense Project, provides the best platform to counter the deeply racist and classist criminal justice system we currently have. His platform points, including fighting to end cash bail, ending prosecution of small amounts of narcotics, pursuing restorative justice and building community task forces would bring much needed change in how criminal justice is handled in Travis County. We believe that Garza’s understanding and advocacy against the structural inequalities and injustices of the criminal justice system make him the best candidate for District Attorney.
County Attorney: Dominic Selvera
Among other duties, the Travis County Attorney is tasked with prosecuting all misdemeanors in the county, and we believe that criminal defense attorney Dominic Selvera is best poised to reform Travis County’s criminal justice system. Selvera provides a platform similar to that of José Garza — promising once elected to not prosecute marijuana or misdemeanor drug possession and to end cash bail for misdemeanors in Travis County, along with decriminalizing homelessness. City Council Member Delia Garza provides a similar platform to Selvera, but she has a less explicit stance on ending cash bail and her only professional legal experience is three years at the Texas Attorney General’s office. While an underdog, we have confidence that Selvera will begin to right the institutional wrongs of our criminal justice system as County Attorney.
Tomorrow is your last chance to vote in the primary. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Perry Castañeda Library, the Flawn Academic Center and Texas Hillel in West Campus. Voting can only get us so far, however. To truly enact the structural change our society needs, we must be involved in organizing our communities around the issues we care about.
The editorial board is comprised of associate editors Abhirupa Dasgupta, Hannah Lopez, Sanika Nayak and editor-in-chief Spencer Buckner.