Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

U.S. House, District 21

Primary Election: March 6, 2018Early Voting: February 20 - March 2, 2018
  • Candidate picture

    Derrick Crowe (Dem) Communications director

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    Joseph Kopser (Dem) Business Consultant

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    Elliott McFadden (Dem) Non-profit CEO of Austin B-cycle

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    Mary Street Wilson (Dem) Minister

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

Explain your position on immigration to the U.S. Please address DACA, a pathway to citizenship, and border security.

What would you do to ensure affordable healthcare access for all citizens?

Identify three measures you would support that reduce gun violence.

What policies would you pursue to address safety and inequalities facing women and people of color?

Do you believe the government has a role in reducing student debt? Why or why not?

What are your legislative priorities for responding to our changing climate?

If spending cuts are necessary where would you cut the budget? Please be specific.

Background Progressive organizer, former senior Capitol Hill staffer for Democrats & nonprofit professional. Ex-small-business owner. Proud husband/father.
Education 2002 Texas Tech University graduate with a B.A. in political science
I strongly oppose the Trump administration's attack on DACA protections for Dreamers, and support a clean Dream Act. I support whistleblower visas to allow workers to report abuses without fear of retaliation and expanding parole-in-place policies. I am a firm supporter of a pathway to citizenship. I strongly oppose President Trump's outrageous plan to build a wall on the southern border as well as attempts to tie local law enforcement to immigration enforcement. We need increased funds for Customs and Border Patrol oversight and training and a stronger internal affairs office at CBP.
I am a firm supporter of Medicare for All, single-payer health care, and the right of all Americans to health care, so much so that I went to jail in protest the last time the GOP tried to kick millions of people off of insurance by repealing the ACA. Congress must also reauthorize CHIP immediately and reject the Trump administration's plan to tie work requirements to Medicaid. I'd fight to bring drug companies to the negotiating table using the buying power of Medicaid while also pursuing anti-trust enforcement against health care conglomerates to ensure pricing competition.
1) I support universal background checks for all gun sales. 2) I would undertake vigorous oversight regarding Defense Department reporting systems that failed to flag the Sutherland Springs shooter for his prior offenses--which under current law would have prevented him from buying the weapons he used. 3) I would push for legislation to ensure shooters cannot obtain high-capacity magazines far in excess of the clips carried by law enforcement.

I would add a fourth measure to this list: I would push for a federal law making "straw man" transactions a federal offense.
I support equal pay in the workplace among genders and would push a federal law to that effect. I also support paid parental leave and paid sick leave, period. I would fight GOP attempts to defund women's health care and VAWA programs.

Much of the injustice visited on people of color is found in the war on drugs, which I want to end by decriminalizing possession of small amounts of illicit substances (less than a gram). Drug addiction is a health crisis, not a criminal issue, and it should be treated as such. I also support the demilitarization of law enforcement and an end to money bail
The government absolutely has a role to play in reducing student debt given that Congress has allowed profiteering to take place at student expense in the first place. The crushing debt loads carried by graduates today represents a huge boondoggle for Wall Street and a huge drag on individual economic freedom. I support College for All (tuition-free public colleges and universities) paid for by a Wall Street financial speculation tax. I would end the government practice of making billions in profit off of student loan programs and allow the renegotiation of interest rates.
We must immediately take action to reduce our carbon emissions to net-zero by 2035. That means we must affirm our commitments to the targets set in the Paris Agreement, commit to a national carbon budget, require federal agencies go carbon-free by 2035, impose a carbon-fee-and-dividend system and a green transition carbon fee to fund electric vehicle technology; assist states in preparing for the onset of climate change while helping them and local municipalities get off of fossil fuels; end fossil fuel subsidies and convert them to electric vehicle incentives; and ban fossil fuel exploration.
The first step to assuring responsible budgeting is to return to regular order budgeting and end Congress' reliance on continuing resolutions and omnibus legislation. The breakdown of regular order has allowed a growing number of programs to operate with expired authorizations, a sure sign that Congress is failing to ensure efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars.

Second, I would end emergency funding for so-called "overseas contingency operations" and put Pentagon spending firmly back in the regular budgeting process.
Background Joseph Kopser is a 20-year Army veteran, technology entrepreneur, and father of three daughters running in the Democratic Primary for TX-21.
Education United States Military Academy, 1993; Harvard Kennedy School of Government, 2002
I will be a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. In the short-term, I remain hopeful that Democrats in Congress will stay resilient and united in getting a clean DACA bill passed. In the long-term, I will focus on being a part of a solution that keeps families together, streamlines the immigration process, creates a pathway to citizenship, and addresses the needs of both low-skill and high-skill employers that cannot currently find enough employees to fill available jobs.
I will fight to ensure coverage for all, regardless of employment status or income level, and I’ll work to close the disparities in both the system’s costs relative to the quality of care Americans receive and the vast gap in coverage that separates the wealthiest Americans from everyday citizens. You can see specifics at
The leadership of the National Rifle Association has developed into little more than a hired bully for gun manufacturers. NRA lobbyist Wayne LaPierre and his ilk bully Republican members of Congress into a corner, and it is unacceptable. In Congress, I will work towards common-sense solutions like re-instituting the assault weapons ban, universal background checks &no-fly/no-buy, and protect state-supremacy on gun safety laws. You can read more specifics at
For too long, too many politicians in Congress have treated the constitutional rights, economic opportunity, access to healthcare, and societal status of communities referenced in the question as a bargaining chip in negotiation. In Congress, my bedrock support for these communities: their health, their opportunity, their choice, and their freedom will never be a bargaining chip. It will be a foundational principle on which I base my representation of Texas 21 and my votes on complex legislation. You can read more specifics at
Absolutely. A system is which a college degree is a prerequisite to enter today’s economy - and thousands of dollars in student debt is a prerequisite to obtaining the degree - is immoral. Americans should have universal access to a post-high school education without it leading to five-figure debt accounts, and graduates who already have amassed this debt need viable options for loan forgiveness or discharge.
Climate change is real and scientists globally accept that emission of carbon dioxide through human consumption of fossil fuels is its principal contributing cause. A stable climate is a critical underpinning of quality of life and sustaining that stability—while exploring leadership solutions for a less stable climate—are at the core of my energy policies. These include: investing in wind/solar, following the Pentagon's lead in investing in energy efficiency; carbon pricing & rebates; and 3rd party financing. You can read more at
I would start by seeking cuts to defense spending. In particular, I would look for places to innovate by engaging the Department of Defense to propose cuts in areas that have proven redundant or unnecessary in the context of today's national security landscape. This emulates work I did building the Defense Energy Summit - Further, I would look to areas where the federal government is subsidizing large corporations that no longer need federal investment - such as oil and gas exploration tax credits, for example.
Background - Former Executive Director of Travis County Democratic Party - Leader of efforts to create Healthcare District and pass housing bonds
Education Bachelors of Arts in Government, University of Texas at Austin
I believe our highest priority on immigration is passing a clean Dream Act so the 800,000 American and 124,000 Texas Dreamers can have the security of a certain future. These undocumented immigrants brought to America as children only know the U.S. as their home and are contributing to our communities. On a broader scale, I would like to see a pathway to citizenship for law abiding undocumented residents. I oppose the building of a border wall and want to see our border security focus on proven, effective measures to control immigration.
I am proposing a Medicare for All program as one of my key initiatives to address access to healthcare. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I have personally seen too many families and individuals bankrupted by unexpected healthcare costs, a reality over 4 million Texans face. I want to see eligibility to enroll in Medicare opened up to all Americans and expand access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program for all Americans who cannot afford the Medicare premium or private insurance.
There are three policies with wide public support I will fight for to reduce gun violence. First, we have to close background check loopholes including requiring background checks at gun shows and personal sales as well as reinstituting the ban on sales to the mentally ill. We also need to ban high capacity clips, bump stocks, and assault weapons. Finally, we need good science to understand the problem better, and I support the use of CDC research dollars in finding the effective solutions to gun violence.
I want to make sure our Justice Department pursues any cases of racial profiling in policing, and profit should never be a motive in taking away someone’s civil rights so we have to get out of the private prison business. We also need to reform our drug laws which, disproportionately affect people of color, by decriminalizing drug use and focusing on treatment instead. One of the ways I want to see us address pay inequity for women is to require paid family leave so women have the flexibility to work and advance while being able to deal with family illnesses.
Yes, I believe crushing, life-long student debt is one of the greatest economic challenges of our generation, and I support debt relief programs for those to take on highly needed jobs like teachers and nurses as well as debt restructuring for everyone. We need to expand our investment in public education to meet the 21st century demand. One of my signature programs is to provide free tuition at public universities, community colleges, and trade schools, and I have provided a way we can pay for it with our current education budget and small increase on the tax on the top 1% of earners.
Climate change presents one of the greatest threats to our way of life and wellbeing. We must first commit to following the science wherever it may lead and stop the corporate funded attacks on legitimate research. I am proposing a real infrastructure bill that focuses on investment in green energy and transit, and I support carbon cap and trade proposals that allow us to realize the indirect cost of carbon on our environment.
One of the areas of spending I want to see reprioritized is our massive defense budget. I do not think the need to fight two WWII size theaters of war simultaneously nor is a massive nuclear arsenal needed in our current world. We must avoid wars of choice that drive this spending, and defense spending should be reduced to focus on a more nimble force to face the threat of terrorism. We should focus our dollars to influence foreign policy by investing in development projects with other countries so the world sees us as partners, not invaders.
Background Mathematics professor and educator for 20 years. Currently, I pastor a small congregation in Cedar Park
Education BS-Mathematics, Ok. Bapt. Univ.; MA-Mathematics, SUNY-New Paltz; Mdiv-Austin Pres. Theological Sem; Doctor of Ministry- in progress, Brite Divinity
I believe congress should pass a clean DACA act immediately. I also believe we need a complete revamping of our immigration policies. When a person attempts to immigrate here legally, following our system is nearly impossible, and those who succeed often persevere for 15-20 years. For those who can afford to wade through the process, I applaud them. For others who do not have the financial means or who come here in fear of their lives or their children's lives, we need to find a better way.
We have models that are already in place - medicare, healthcare for govt employees, the military. We have the knowledge and means to implement a universal healthcare system and we should. There is freedom and security in knowing we will not face bankruptcy due to medical bills. When I was in college I worked at a local emergency room. Everyone was treated, but not everyone could pay. The hospital, as hospitals continue to do today, simply raise rates for those who can pay to make up the difference. We all pay for health care, but right now we do it in the most inefficient manner possible.
1. Close the gun show loophole 2. Background checks 3.1. Ban bump stocks 3.2. Waiting period. In Texas, a shotgun wedding would require a three day waiting period, not because it takes three days to apply to get a gun, but because it takes three days in order for the wedding certificate to become valid. If we can require couples to wait 3 days to get married, we can require people to wait at least 24 hours before receiving a gun.
1. Vote for women. 2. Hire women. 3. Prohibit those accused of domestic violence from purchasing a gun without a background check.
I think we need to end the "for profit" nature of student loans. They have become an albatross around the necks of graduates and prevent them from participating in the larger economy. To that end, we need to implement a debt forgiveness program and at the very least put a cap on the interest rate of new loans.
1.On a local scale, promote sustainable resources - wind and solar are particularly viable for the congressional district 21. Texas currently produces the most wind energy in the US. There's no reason we shouldn't continue to take advantage of this natural resource. 2. On a global scale support UN-REDD. According to their research "Deforestation and forest degradation account for approximately 17 per cent of carbon emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector. " Clearly, we need a multi-faceted approach and we need global cooperation.
Although cutting the budget sounds appealing, we also have to remember we want good roads, bridges, schools, healthcare, educated diplomats, etc. More than cuts, I would like to see us examine where money is being left out of the current tax system. For instance, we know from the Panama papers that off shore accounts are a means to evade taxes. The New York Times estimates the loss is near $70 Billion in tax revenue. Secondly, salaries and wages are taxed at a higher rate than investment income. I would like to see a graduated tax rate increase on investment income.