After being elected and re-elected a total of 13 times, longtime state representative Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, shocked the local political community late last year by announcing his intention to retire. Naishtat represents the state legislature’s 49th district, which includes the University’s campus and surrounding neighborhoods. He leaves quite the legacy.
As a Democrat, he has fought hard against the extremist positions and programs espoused by Republican leadership in recent years, including those supported by by Gov. Greg Abbott and former Gov. Rick Perry. However, Naishtat’s talents also include his abilities to work well with the other side of the aisle and get things done, especially as the vice chair of the Texas House public health committee.
There is only one candidate who can properly follow that legacy. Her name is Gina Hinojosa.
Hinojosa, who until recently served as the president of the Austin Independent School District’s board of trustees, has the requisite experience in politics and public service that her many opponents in the Democratic primary for this legislative seat simply do not possess.
“Once elected to the school board, I learned of the continuum of issues that affect young people in this state,” Hinojosa said. “With the state’s record low investment in higher education, college is too often unaffordable. Young people of color disproportionately carry criminal records for life for personal drug possession. Young women have fewer options to make decisions about their reproductive health.”
A colleague on the editorial staff recently advocated for one of Hinojosa’s opponents, pointing to his youth as evidence of his commitment to the University and its students. But a record is a much better tool to judge a candidate. Hinojosa’s record proves she is undoubtedly the right candidate for us. On the school board, she was an instant leader and helped lead the fight against education cuts affecting students.
The next legislature is sure to bring about a diverse set of complex issues for legislators and constituents alike. UT is sure to be affected. With a possible Supreme Court ruling eliminating affirmative action here, the legislature may very well be compelled to revisit the Top 10 Percent Rule. The Texas Dream Act may also be revisited by those seeking its elimination.
The voters in District 49 have a great opportunity in Hinojosa. They can select the candidate who can carry on Naishtat’s legacy on not only advocating for their beliefs, but also implementing them at the State Capitol.
“Now students at UT will be forced into the dangerous situation that campus carry will bring,” Hinojosa said. “We’ve gone in the wrong direction since I graduated from UT, and it’s unacceptable.”
Indeed, but I’d take Hinojosa’s comments one step further. While most all of the Democrats vying for this position recognize the problems, Hinojosa is the one who could most effectively be part of the solution.
UT students should consider these variables before casting their vote in District 49. Hinojosa is the best suited to effectively defend us.
Horwitz is a government senior from Houston. Horwitz is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @NmHorwitz.