Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Texas House, District 46

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

    Sheryl Cole (Dem) Attorney

  • Candidate picture

    Jose 'Chito' Vela (Dem) Attorney

Change Candidates

Biographical Information

What processes do you support to improve elections and voting in Texas?

Identify three measures you would support that reduce gun violence.

After publication of the 2020 census, new congressional, state and education districts will be redrawn. What process do you support to ensure fair representation?

What would you do to provide and fund an equitable, quality public education for all children pre-K through grade 12?

What are your legislative priorities for the Texas environment? Discuss water management, renewable energy, and clean air.

What would you do to ensure healthcare for all Texans?

What other issue do you consider most important and how would you address it?

Background I am an attorney and accountant by trade and have a long history of public service. I served on Austin City Council for 10 years and as Mayor Pro Tem.
Education Doctor of Jurisprudence, University of Texas School of Law, 1991. Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Texas at Austin, 1986.
I support online voter registration and same-day voter registration and believe that anyone should be able to vote by mail. I oppose discriminatory Voter ID laws, which disproportionately affect low-income communities, students, and people of color.
Closing the Gun Show Loophole, where background checks and identification are not required during gun sales at a gun show, is an easy place to start. We also need to ensure that existing background check infrastructure is functioning, to reduce the odds that a tragedy like Sutherland Springs, where the gunman purchased firearms despite a violent criminal background. We also need to look at causes of violence. We need to expand access to mental health care and intervene earlier in cycles of domestic violence - both of which would require increased funding from the state.
I believe California’s system of a nonpartisan independent committee to draw maps for redistricting is a strong answer to Texas’ hyper-partisan Gerrymandering. It allowed for greater input from the community, and the resulting districts are much healthier for democracy and representation.
I support a fair and equitable state income tax. However, since I do not believe that is likely to pass in the current political climate, I believe we absolutely must revise the school finance funding formula and reexamine recapture rates. As it stands, AISD is losing $500 million or more to recapture, despite the fact that a majority of our students are from low income houses and have free or reduced-price lunches. School finance should not be funded on the backs of those who can least afford it.
On Austin City Council, I formed a Water Conservation Task Force and defended Austin Energy’s progressive policies at the State Legislature, and I would continue to be a strong voice for the environment if elected. We must invest in the future so that our children’s children have a beautiful, clean, and habitable Earth to inherit. They should not have to live in fear of alternating drought and super storms from the gulf. Texas has a great potential for investing in solar and wind energy, and I strongly support efforts to improve our infrastructure to better guard against flooding and drought.
Texas should have accepted the Medicaid expansion. Unfortunately, we failed to do so, and many Texans have paid the price. We need to invest in accessible and affordable community clinics, including for mental healthcare. We need to study why Texas has such an overwhelming Maternal Mortality Rate, and do everything we can to address that. We need to invest in nonprofits, such as Planned Parenthood, that pay overwhelming dividends in how much they help our communities. The Health and Human Services budget needs every dollar it can get, and I will fight for them during the budget process.
There are many facets to affordability and no one way to address these issues. We need to ensure economic development is for everyone. We need to address rising housing costs by making sure the Legislature pays for its fair share of education. We have to fix the trend of rising deregulated tuition and healthcare costs that have outpaced stagnated wages. On Council, I revived failing affordability efforts and made sure they passed, supported prevailing wages, and made sure businesses responsibly contributed to our tax base. I pledge to actively seek progress everywhere we can.
Background I am currently an immigration and criminal defense attorney. Before, I worked for a State Representative and at the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Education I received a bachelor’s in history, a master’s in public affairs and a law degree from The University of Texas.
I support making registration as easy and as quick as possible, including allowing online registration and allowing people to register to vote on election day. I would repeal the disenfranchising voter ID laws that Texas has recently passed. They negatively impact poor and minority voters.
I would support the following measures to reduce gun violence: (1) universal background checks without any loopholes or exceptions (2) repeal the open carry and campus carry laws (3) ban the sale of assault weapons. As a young boy, I grew up hunting and fishing in South Texas. I appreciate the tradition of gun ownership in Texas. However, I also woke up in Las Vegas, Nevada on the morning of Oct. 1, 2017 when a madman with an assault weapon killed 58 and wounded more than 500. That horrific scene will forever haunt me. Our country must ban assault weapons.
The current congressional districts clearly establish the fact that the last people that should be drawing a district are the politicians that will inherit those districts. Texas should have an independent, bi-partisan re-districting committee made up of diverse members selected on a statewide basis. There should be no elected officials on the committee.
Funding quality public education is a core function of state government. Sadly, Texas has one of the lowest levels of per student funding in the U.S. We must move away from our reliance on local property taxes to fund education and toward a statewide tax system. A statewide tax system allows us to end the inequitable “Robin Hood” system that punishes Austin and other urban districts. Other states have legalized and taxed marijuana. Texas should do the same and dedicate that revenue to education. We should also look at legalized gambling and dedicate those revenues to education.
Water Management - The cities of San Antonio and Austin, have successfully reduced water consumption through aggressive public awareness campaigns. The state should support funding for a myriad of water conservation programs at the local level. Renewable Energy - I support a carbon tax on producers of electricity. This would both limit carbon producing electrical plants, such as coal and natural gas, and raise badly-needed revenue for the state. Clean Air – I will advocate to ensure the state complies with the federal Clean Air Act and holds polluters accountable.
One of the biggest issues facing Texas today is our refusal to accept the Medicaid expansion that was part of the Affordable Care Act. About 900,000 Texans could have access to free and comprehensive health care through Medicaid if our state government simply said yes to the federal money. I strongly support accessing those federal funds and will make this my priority at the Texas Legislature.
Criminal justice reform is an overarching issue that ranges from grappling with major shifts in policy to addressing mundane changes to the Texas Penal Code such as making it easier for people to keep and renew their drivers’ licenses by reducing fines that disporportionally affect the poor.

The war on drugs has failed. Texas should stop the over criminalization of possession for personal use and treat illegal drug use as the public health crisis that it is. And we must end the use of the death penalty.