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Monday, November 28, 2022

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SGA event gives first look at November’s Election Day candidates


The Candidates Forum, as a part of the SGA 2000 Voters ‘N 2022 initiative, was an opportunity for students to learn more about some candidates prior to Election Day. | Photo courtesy of SGA

Last Friday, the Student Government Association hosted a candidate forum in the Student Center Theatre as a part of the second phase of its “2000 Voters ‘N 2022” initiative.

“2000 Voters ‘N 2022” aims to register, educate and activate students before Election Day in November. The Candidates Forum allowed local politicians to inform the student body on their platform in a series of moderated speeches. 

The candidate forum was organized by SGA Director of External Affairs Caitlin Beafneaux, and featured 13 Democrats and two Republicans. This article will provide a condensed version of what was said, as well as some background information on the speakers.

Chris Hollins

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Mayor

Party: Democrat

What they said: Though mayoral elections are still over a year off, Hollins took the opportunity to speak at Friday’s event. While at the podium, Hollins emphasized safety, not just in terms of crime, but environmental and economic security as well.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight; when it rains here, we’re all in danger,” Hollins said. “Safety is about more than just crime.”

Amanda Edwards

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Mayor

Party: Democrat

What they said: Another hopeful in the 2023 mayoral election, Edwards is a former city councilwoman and Harvard graduate. As a child, her father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Her subsequent experiences with the U.S. healthcare system inspired her to fight for medical reform. 

“I took that experience with me as passion and as a principle,” Edwards said. “I decided to make sure that I would make a difference in our community, one that put our people first.”

Katherine Thomas

Photo courtesy of  SGA

Candidate for: Judge, 184th Criminal District Court

Party: Democrat

What they said: As a candidate for judge, Thomas dedicated much of her time to criminal punishment and reform issues. Thomas said that allocating additional resources to reform programs, particularly for younger offenders, and investing in alcohol and drug rehabilitation is key to reducing crime rates. 

“I want to make sure our criminal justice system is not reactionary,” Thomas said. “That doesn’t mean giving people community service hours, but actually giving them substantive measures so that we are addressing the root cause,” 

Andrea Duhon

Photo courtesy of  SGA

Candidate for: Harris County Board of Education Trustee, Precinct 2

Party: Democrat

What they said: A current UH student enrolled in the master’s in public administration program, Duhon has previously served as a board trustee representing Precinct 3. During her speech, Duhon emphasized the crucial role the Board plays in providing supplementary services to districts like HISD. 

“We do early childhood education programs, after-school programs, school counseling and therapy services and adult education programs,” Duhon said. “It’s a really big deal for all of these ISDs to have these services offered to them.”

Amy Hinojosa

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Harris County Board of Education Trustee, Precinct 1

Party: Democrat

What they said: The current trustee for precinct 2, Hinojosa, is running for precinct 1 in the 2022 election. She built on the points made by Duhon by emphasizing the Board’s importance and expanding on plans for future initiatives. 

“I want to expand early education and include financial literacy classes in our adult education program,” Hinojosa said. “I am passionate about elevating our community through education, and I am steadfast in my support for this department.”

Michelle Palmer

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Texas Department of Education, District 6

Party: Democrat

What they said: A UH alumna and former member of SGA, Palmer has been a teacher since 2009. Her motivation for running stems from the frustration she has felt dealing with Texas education policy over the past decade. If elected, Palmer would be the first openly LGBTQ person to serve as an elected official for the Texas Department of Education. 

“Some people wanted to do things like change the word slavery to involuntary relocation,” Palmer said. “It would be a really good thing to have a history teacher in there.”

Carla Wyatt

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Harris County Treasurer

Party: Democrat

What they said: As Harris County Treasurer, Wyatt’s responsibilities would be to oversee the county’s budget and monitor its transactions. Wyatt’s top priorities included reducing inefficiencies and technical limitations.

“There are definitely technology gaps when it comes to the office of the treasurer,” Wyatt said. “Installing card readers to allow for citizens to pay for records without a checkbook is a simple tweak that could really make the whole process more efficient.”

Kyle Scott

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Harris County Treasurer

Party: Republican

What they said: Scott is the former Vice Chancellor of Strategic Priorities at Lonestar college and has a Ph.D. in political science from UH. Scott’s platform revolved around increasing transparency concerning county finance and addressing record-keeping issues.

“None of the payments made since 2020 to outside vendors can be found on the county auditor’s website,” Scott said. “This is a problem folks, because accountability is predicated on transparency.”

Chris Daniel

Photo courtesy of  SGA

Candidate for: Harris County District Clerk

Party: Republican

What they said: The second of the two Republican candidates to participate in the candidate forum, Daniel previously served as the district clerk until he was voted out in 2018. Daniel said at the candidate forum that he believes his previous experience, as well as his combined background in both engineering and law, will help him retake the office in November. 

“I ran that office as an engineer and a lawyer, and we brought a renaissance to that office, maybe one of the best district clerks in the state,” Daniel said. “We’re gonna give it a good go this time, and we’re going to take the office back.”

Marilyn Burgess

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Harris County District Clerk

Party: Democrat

What they said: Originally born in Louisiana, Burgess is the current Harris County District Clark and has held the office since her election in 2018. Burgess’ address revolved primarily around the work her office had done during her tenure. Among other things, she worked to modernize outdated systems and ensure juries reflect the city’s diversity. 

“We need diversity not only in ethnicity but in age. People bring different life perspectives to the table, and we need those different voices,” Burgess said. “I’ve done a lot of really good things, but there’s a lot more I want to do.”

Teneshia Hudspeth

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Harris County Clerk

Party: Democrat

What they said: Like Burgess, Hudspeth is also running as an incumbent. She graduated from Texas Southern University and assumed office in 2021 as the first black woman to serve as county clerk. According to Hudspeth, what she brings to the table is the ability to act in a bipartisan manner. 

“We have to get back to the basics and figure out how to work together,” Hudspeth said. “Working across the aisle is my forte. I have done that my entire career and will continue to do so.”

Sedrick Walker

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Judge, Harris County Criminal Court 11

Party: Democrat

What they said: Another incumbent hoping to defend his office this election season, Walker is a University of Texas alumni and former prosecutor for the Harris County district attorney. Walker focused on dispelling concerns and misconceptions regarding bail reform

“Obviously, bail reform is a huge topic right now, and I think it’s important people understand that there’s a lot of detail, a lot of nuance here,” Walker said. “A lot of people don’t realize that the system we had in place previously was found to be unconstitutional by a district court judge in 2017.”

Leslie Briones

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Harris County Commissioners Court, Precinct 4

Party: Democrat

What they said: A Harvard graduate with a law degree from Yale, Briones is a former teacher and current judge for the Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 4. Briones spoke passionately about what she perceived to be a huge step backward taken by the U.S. in recent years.

“I graduated college about 20 years ago, and I have fewer rights now than I did then,” Briones said. “As the mother of 3 daughters, I cannot raise them in this version of Texas.”

Cameron Campbell

Photo courtesy of SGA

Candidate for: Texas House of Representatives, District 132

Party: Democrat

What they said: Campbell, or “Coach Cam” as he refers to himself, graduated from UH in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Since then, Campbell has worked with the Houston Texans, authored a book and received a Pinnacle Award from the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce. Campbell seeks to apply lessons learned on the football field to his work as a politician. 

“One of my unique skills as a coach is putting together a team and a program from people from all walks of life,” Campbell said. “My vision for Texas is pulling people together for education, jobs, opportunity and advancement. That is not a bipartisan thing, and if that’s not what you want, you can get the hell up out of Texas.”

Robin Fulford

Photo courtesy of  SGA

Candidate for: U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd District

Party: Democrat

What they said: The final candidate to speak at Friday’s forum, Fulford is originally from Baltimore and attended UCLA before eventually moving to The Woodlands. Fulford hopes to unseat Republican incumbent Dan Crenshaw. Her goals include expanding healthcare and protecting education.

“I believe that we should support education that is grounded in fact and free from political dogma. I believe that we can pass and achieve healthcare for all,” Fulford said. “Really, the biggest issue that I see is the disconnect between what a lot of people want and need and what’s going on.”

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