Today is Election Day for the party primary runoffs in Texas. One of the races still up for grabs is the democratic candidate for Congressional District 23.
Here’s what you need to know about the sprawling Congressional District and the Democratic Candidates looking to represent it.
In the Democratic primary runoff, the candidates vying for the party nomination are Gina Ortiz Jones and Rick Treviño. The winner will face Republican incumbent Will Hurd in November.
Gina Ortiz Jones
Gina Ortiz Jones is a former intelligence officer; she served in the Air Force and was deployed to Iraq. The first-time politician served in the military under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as a lesbian woman of color.
This is her first time running for office but she’s got a pretty robust background in public service.
Gina’s a first-generation American and her mom is from the Phillippines. She often says talent is universal and opportunity is not. She wants to protect resources like scholarships and free and reduced lunches that supported her growing up in a low-income family.
“I went to John Jay High School in San Antonio,” Jones says. “You start with 900 kids, only 500 graduate. I was reminded every single day by my mom who raised my younger sister and I by herself that you know our trajectory in life is in no small part just to being born here. The opportunities that come along with just calling yourself an american. The real need to protect those opportunities for others.”
Rick Trevino is the other Democratic candidate in the CD-23 primary runoff. His mother is from Mexico and was a key figure in his upbringing.
“When she was teaching herself English she was taking U.S. history and I was there studying with her when I was a little kid,” Treviño says. “And that’s where I found my love for history. And to see the struggles she did just to learn the language, become a nurse. I’ve met people all across this district that have had that same type of struggle.
That working-class type of struggle is central to Treviño’s platform. He talks about universal healthcare, a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free college education.
Treviño completed a Masters in Educational Leadership at Trinity University, and taught for several years before entering the race.
However, this isn’t his first foray into politics. Last year, Treviño ran for San Antonio City Council. He was also a delegate for Bernie Sanders, which he says was instrumental to the platform he’s running on now.
When it comes to health care, Treviño told Texas Public Radio’s call-in show The Source that he fully supports a medicare-for-all system that will lower healthcare costs and provide better services.
He says many people in CD-23 are sick as a direct result of poor access to and the cost of healthcare and that many of them get their meds from across the border in Mexico. Treviño also says politicians who receive money from big pharmaceutical companies are part of the problem.
Jones says she also supports medicare-for-all i n the long run but believes in the immediate, there needs to be protections and improvements to the Affordable Care Act. She believes the GOP will repeal and not replace it. Jones also sees the importance of investing in tele-health services at community health clinics in places like Presidio where the closest hospital is 80 miles away in Alpine.
The other major policy issue that comes up for D23 is immigration reform.
On this subject, Jones often says the border’s sister cities — places like Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass, or Presidio and Ojinaga — are inextricably connected.
“It’s interesting that the people that are on the border, that are living it, recognize that if you really want to make these communities stronger, you create economic opportunities that allow then for the resources to invest in our public education, and some of the other public services,” Jones told Marfa Public Radio. “The people I’’m talking to very much want to invest in smart healthy kids, not a smart wall.”
Now when Treviño talks about immigration. He talks about his former students, some of which were recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. He wants a clean vote on protections for them.
He’s also opposed to a wall on the Texas-Mexico border, like Gina. But he’s quick to add that he thinks the sprawling district is more than immigration or border security.
“The only time district 23 is in the media really has to do with immigration or border security,” Treviño told Marfa Public Radio. “But there is a lintay of real issues that this district is facing. And if we are considered to be a violent, dangerous area and we only talk about border security, the only type of investment that the federal government is ever going to send is to secure those borders.”
Come November, when one of these candidates will face Republican incumbent Will Hurd, they both think they got a pretty good shot.
Jones says her background in the intelligence community neutralizes what she calls the “perceived strengths” of Will Hurd. Treviño says he has a better chance in the fall because he feels he really represents the working class of the district.