The Texas Politics Speaker Series, which brings state leaders to the UT campus, featured interviews last week with Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, on education in the state and the current redistricting legal battle.
The following quotes are from the discussion with Davis:
“When you come after me in a way that has a devastating and permanent impact on people who had once had a voice in electing a person to serve them and forever silencing that voice, then you’ve done a terrible thing.”
— On attempts to redraw the boundaries of Davis’ district, Senate District 10, that many argued diluted the minority vote.
“I certainly don’t have to educate [constituents] on the impact to their community if the decision isn’t changed, and I certainly haven’t had to help them understand why they should be upset about. They’re extremely upset. ... [They] collectively say, ‘If this isn’t blatant, illegal gerrymandering, I don’t know what is.’”
— When asked how she explains the consequences and importance of redistricting to her constituents.
“When I came in that night, I did have flat shoes on. I think it was the very first time I had ever worn flat shoes on the Senate floor.”
— In response to a question about comments people made about the shoes she wore on May 29, the day she led a late-night filibuster that propelled the Legislature into a special session.
The following quotes are from the interview with Seliger:
“Every time that we put an idea on paper or on a map, the question was very clear ‘Is this a violation of law?’ And if they said ‘Yes, it is’ or ‘We believe it is,’ we didn’t do it.”
— On the process his committee used to draw the new legislative maps. Seliger chaired the Senate committee on redistricting during the 82nd Legislature.
“I think the calculation of some people was ‘We’ve got a map that’s going to be drawn largely by Republicans in Texas. Instead of going to the Obama Justice Department, let’s go right to the court system.’ And I understand that calculation.”
— On whether bypassing the Department of Justice and filing a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to certify the legality of the Legislature’s maps was a good idea.
“People are tremendously and somewhat indiscriminately influenced by waste. ... They object to waste. But we need to define what waste and inefficiency are, and that’s what the discussion is about now.”
— When asked whether he thinks there is support for thinking about higher education in a broader sense than economic value.
“Absolutely, we need to air it out. There are legitimate questions that need to be asked, asked from all perspectives.”
— On the role of the Legislature’s Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency.