Last December, longtime Democrat and Texas House representative Elliott Naishtat announced that he was retiring from his post in House District 49. Today, voters will cast their ballots to determine his replacement. The Democratic primary field to replace him is crowded, but two candidates have separated themselves from the field as choices for students. While Huey Rey Fischer has made a strong case for himself as a representative of student interests, Gina Hinojosa’s experience in local education politics makes her the best choice for HD 49.
On some level, this election is a referendum on how to attack education policy goals in a staunchly conservative state legislature. In the past year, it passed campus carry legislation without acting to correct its unconstitutional school funding system. With Fisher v. University of Texas looming on the horizon, this district needs a champion who can effectively fight to ensure students from every background have the opportunity to attend this University, and that they have the resources to succeed when they get here.
While HD 49 is among the most progressive districts in the state, the voters in this district cannot influence statewide policy on their own. While the Texas Tribune ranked Naishtat the fourth most liberal member of this past year’s legislature, campus carry and abortion restrictions passed while he was in office. Whoever fills his shoes must come in with a proven record of fighting for Texans, lest we make it easier for more bills like these to pass.
The question, then, is how to go about inspiring change. Fischer brings experience working for three different progressive representatives in the Texas House and Senate, and is undoubtedly in touch with the issues that UT students face, having graduated from the University in 2014. While he may have a bright future in politics, this post is too much for an individual who has never held any elected office.
Given the severity of the issues the next representative will face, Gina Hinojosa’s experience fighting for the changes that Fischer calls for makes her the clear choice. During her time as an attorney, she fought illegal campaign contributions by republican members of the Texas House, and as AISD board president, she helped secure more funding for public schools. All the while, she has used her positions to fight for workers’ rights and protections.
No matter who wins, the next representative will fight an uphill battle to better the state. It is the opinion of the Daily Texan editorial board that Gina Hinojosa has the experience and values to make a difference in this legislature. When you make your way to the polls, we urge that you give your strongest consideration to Hinojosa.