House, Ramona Thompson announced her run for Texas House District 106, a seat currently held by Pat Fallon (R-Frisco).
District 106 is a gerrymandered shape that includes the cities of Aubrey, The Colony, Cross Roads, Hackberry, Krugerville, Lakewood Village, Lincoln Park, Little Elm, Oak Point, Pilot Point, Sanger, and portions of Frisco, Hebron, Prosper and Plano.
Why are you running for this office?
Texas Democrats have been under represented in Austin politics for too long.
As I watched the last year unfold with horror, I realized that too many of us abdicated our power by not donating and voting, and not being informed, involved, and politically active. It’s clear that we need more Democrats willing to run for office and represent all Texans.
I am tired of our “representatives” supporting special interests and ignoring the rest of us. I feel our legislators don’t really care what we have to say and that they’re too beholden to wealthy donors and the partisan interests that put them in office. That stops now, with me, and you. Our voices have been ignored too long. We must rise up and take back our power, turning Texas blue again, and Washington too.
I am outraged that for the last 20 years the Texas legislature has passed laws that make lives worse for so many of our citizens, not better. They have inadequately funded schools, health care, environmental protections, and other factors affecting our quality of life.
I want to represent my district to make people’s lives better, with a better balance of business interests and consumer interests. I believe we can find solutions that benefit both simultaneously. And I believe our leaders must reflect the populace, but I see that women and minorities are still vastly underrepresented in the halls of power. I will work to change that and make sure the decisions made in Austin are the best choices for all of Texas, and not just corporate and partisan interests.
Local Democrats unfortunately left the gates of power open and unguarded too long by taking our freedoms and way of life for granted. Often because we saw ourselves as a minority, and sometimes fearing harassment, we stayed quiet and allowed conservative interests to drown out our voices.
As a society, we have become afraid of change rather than embracing it and making it a positive force for our state and nation. I believe we grow with change, and that one person’s courage gives others the courage to also speak up and do the right thing. Look at the powerful voices of the #MeToo movement who are so loudly speaking up about the sexual misconduct – behavior that has been long known but not acknowledged until now. The time has come for those who have been shamed and humiliated to come into the light, and for Democrats to setup up and fight.
Why should voters vote for you over your opponent?
I am a Democrat committed to working on behalf of all constituents to protect achievements that made America great in the first place, such as Social Security, Medicare, civil rights, women’s rights, animal rights, voting rights, equal opportunity, public education, environmental protections, religious freedom, healthcare for all, and many others. I believe business benefits accrue when we treat employees, customers, and people in general, with fairness and respect. I am a team player who believes we all do better when we work together to find solutions that serve the greatest good. I believe we must get out of our respective corners and come together in civil discourse to uncover the best path forward for Texans.
Length of residency in Texas and your district:
I moved to Texas in 1978 and have lived in the DFW since then, both in Dallas and Denton Counties. I have lived in Frisco since 2014.
What Experience—professionally or politically—do you have that prepares you for this position?
My first actual foray into politics was in 1972. That was the year 18-year olds got the right to vote, and I turned 18 that year. I led the first 18-year-old voter registration drive in my high school. I have been involved in politics in some way or another ever since.
I bring over 30 years of business experience and community activism that includes:
- Daughters of the Republic of Texas (member since 1991, president, 1995-96);
- Neighborhood Board of Directors (communications director);
- Held elective office as precinct chair 10+ years in Dallas and Denton counties;
- Former election judge;
- Founder of Alliance of Progressive Voters;
- Founder of Indivisible Frisco.
On the business side, I owned a secretarial service for 11 years, worked in the home mortgage industry for 25 years, and am a member of the North Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals since 1992 and board member for many years.
Leadership: What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?
As Founder and the first President of the Alliance of Progressive Voters about two years ago, I networked, recruited for, and organized the groups. During our first year, we held monthly meetings, presented speakers and had social events. We started from scratch, and now APV is a vibrant community of nearly 300 like-minded individuals. After November 2016 I founded Indivisible Frisco, which has become an important local extension of a national grass-roots movement to resist the Trump agenda.
What political leader do you admire most and why?
I admire Barack Obama because of his intelligence, compassion, dedication, speaking ability, wisdom, and accomplishments. He was a true leader, always keeping us focused on the bigger picture, speaking to our true hearts, and reminding us of who we are as a country.
What else do you want constituents to know about you and your background?
Throughout my career I’ve seen strong business benefits accrue from treating employees, customers, and people in general with fairness and respect. I’ve lived in the DFW area since 1978, currently live in Frisco with my husband of 26 years, and have 3 children and 6 grandchildren. I graduated from the University of Missouri with a B.S. in Public Administration, minoring in Marketing, Journalism, and Pre-law.
If elected, what would be your top priorities?
As described in more detail in articles on my website, my top issues are Local Control, Bringing Balance back to Austin, Public Education, and Affordable Healthcare. Another top priority is to help other progressives Save Capitalism from Corruption that results from a widening wealth gap and increased political influence from wealthy special interests.
Public Education: Is enough being spent, and how should that improve?
Texas does not spend enough on public education, and it shows. We’re ranked 43rd in the nation and were given a C- in Education Week’s 2017 report card. We earned a C on student’s chance for success later in life but a D for school finance, but it’s not that simple. Texas Superintendent John Kuhn is especially critical of how school funding is distributed and says, “Educational malpractice doesn’t happen in the classroom. The greatest educational malpractice … happens in the State house, not the schoolhouse.”
Public schools must be fully funded, and now is not the time for the state government to take funding away from public schools and bow to pressure from special interests that propose using tax-funded vouchers to finance private education as an alternative.
In education, as with other policy decisions, we should first agree on strategic overall objectives and understand that different districts need different solutions. As a representative for HD-106, I will advocate for local control and more equitable funding, because I believe every child deserves a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve the American dream, no matter where they live. (See http://ramona4tx.com/texas-gets-c-in-education/.)
Affordable College: Lawmakers have suggested imposing limits on rising tuition at state universities. Is this the best way to ensure that college is affordable for all Texans?
According to The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, we are entering a Fourth Industrial Revolution with the exponentially accelerating pace of tech innovation. It’s already clear that automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology will disrupt many industries and impose new educational requirements; and these technologies will build on and amplify each other, suggesting that a more important question is how to strategically develop state education policy so a healthy, skilled and productive workforce will attract the right industries. What skills will be needed? How to handle retraining as entire job classifications become obsolete? What is the proper role of community colleges, given their close connection with the skill needs of local employers? And are we ignoring the professional trades? These are questions I think the Legislature must address to prepare our state for the future.
Infrastructure: Even after voters approved two state Constitutional Amendments to raise highway funds, officials say Texas is still billions short of money needed for its to-do list. What is your assessment, and how should the Legislature respond?
Many of our problems with infrastructure are the same as with education and healthcare. Texas has failed to develop a preferred vision of its future, with a long-term strategic plan for achieving specific objectives. The Governor used his Enterprise fund to essentially bribe big companies to locate here with tax breaks, ignoring the needs of smaller and arguably more innovative small companies. I prefer a more strategic approach designed to entice them with a highly-skilled and productive workforce, affordable cost of living, attractive lifestyle, and strategic investments in education, research, healthcare, and infrastructure, funded with progressive tax reforms.
Traffic: Do you support adding limited toll, or “managed” lanes, to new highway projects to get them started sooner and make the region’s state highway funds go further?
I think tolls should be used to control traffic flow, not to generate revenue. I’m not a fan of cost-cutting austerity measures that cause us to outsource the building of toll roads to foreign companies who will profit for decades at our expense.
Mass Transit: Do you support the proposed bullet train between Dallas and Houston, a project largely financed with private funds but which requires some public investment, and use of eminent domain? Why or why not?
While I’m not a transportation expert, it seems that mass transit is needed more in our cities than between them, but I could be convinced otherwise. And while I might support public-private partnerships, I question the wisdom of giving up long-term revenue. Just look at the mismanaged 85 MPH Texas 130 toll road around Austin. Governor Rick Perry promoted it as a partnership between Zachry Construction Co. and Spanish developer Cintra, with Cintra getting the toll revenue. (See https://jalopnik.com/the-glorious-85-mph-texas-highway-was-built-on-nothing-1787640990/)
Justice: In recent sessions, state lawmakers have enacted important justice reforms in response to DNA exonerations. What further justice reforms should the Legislature put on its to-do list?
Private for-profit prisons should be eliminated, even though conservatives believe they can operate more efficiently, because numerous studies have questioned that contention, suggesting that they often fail to keep the public safe and may cost states more in the long term. Rather than rehabilitating offenders to ensure they don’t commit future crimes and to assist them in becoming contributing members of society, private prisons simply encourage mass incarceration as a way of increasing profit. But there’s a potentially more sinister motive – voter suppression – because felons can’t vote. (See https://www.americanbar.org/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/human_rights_vol38_2011/human_rights_summer11/prisons_for_profit_incarceration_for_sale.html/)
Local Control: What is your position on legislation to (a) legalize medicinal use of marijuana, (b) reclassify possession of small amounts of pot as a fine-only offense? Does this language need to be updated?
Much evidence, both anecdotal and clinical, exists that indicate cannabis has value in treating a vast number of illnesses. Limiting its use to one or two illnesses is to block invaluable relief to the majority of Texans that would otherwise benefit. Scientific evidence should dictate the best us of cannabis, not legislators. Doctors must be allowed to decide what is best for their patients.
We already have too many people in jail and don’t need to criminalize marijuana use, especially for medical use, but the issue is getting more complicated with the impending clash over States Rights, and Local Control.
I’ll be following the issue, but speaking of local control, my district was affected when the City of Denton became the first to ban fracking in their city. Oil industry attorneys took their case to Austin and argued that voters lacked the technical sophistication, and that such decisions should be left to industry and government “experts.” In the end, Texas lawmakers preempted Denton’s authority to regulate, and Governor Abbot quickly signed the bill into law, even saying states should ban cities from having any regulatory powers. I of course disagree. (See http://ramona4tx.com/gop-against-local-control/)
Employment: Texas is great at creating jobs. But many workers in the Dallas area work full time and still live in poverty. What changes, if any, should Texas lawmakers consider to address this?
Of all the developed nations, the U.S. has the most unequal distribution of income. The bottom 50% of the population live hand-to-mouth and don’t invest. They own just 0.5% of stocks, and because they spend almost all of what they earn on living expenses, any extra money they get goes directly into the economy, creating increased market demand for goods and services that mostly benefit those at the top. So, I’d like to see the minimum wage become a living wage and other things that help lift people out of poverty, because I believe that’s compassionate and the best way to grow the economy. But conservatives are doing just the opposite and widening the wealth gap. (See http://www.mhealthtalk.com/inequality/)
Foster Care: Do you believe Federal oversight would improve foster care, or should the state handle that entirely on its own?
Federal regulations are never a complete solution. Investment in educating and paying wages reflective of the responsibilities of social support workers is imperative to protect children in foster care. Investing in this oversite will result in a good return on investment when children are truly well cared for both physically and mentally and are prepared to be an asset to the workforce when they leave the system.
Open Records: What changes, if any, would you like to make to Texas’ open records and open meetings laws?
Transparency in government is required in order to maintain a stable Democracy. Limiting access weakens our democracy whether in state or federal government. Meetings concerning legislation should be open to the public. A closed government is a weak government.
Bathroom Bill: It dominated the 2017 Legislative. Do you favor re-introducing this legislation, and if it is, would you support it?
This bill is generally seen by the public as an issue that was based more in partisan politics as opposed to a reality based issue and has not represented good used of the time and money that the Texas Legislature devoted to it. This type of partisan issue slows down true progress in our state. I would oppose the bill if it were reintroduced
Voter ID: Federal courts have now ruled that Texas lawmakers acted with racial animus when they passed the Texas Voter ID laws. Efforts to soften the law have so far not allowed it to pass constitutional muster. Should the Voter ID law be changed, and if so, how?
Voter ID Laws can disenfranchise voters who don’t own a car or have a driver’s license, including college students, the poor, and the elderly. How could Texas require a government-issued photo ID but disallow student IDs from state universities and allow handgun permits that have no photo? No, I see Texas’ voter ID laws as another form of voter suppression, along with gerrymandering, selective purging of voter registration records, literacy tests, onerous candidate requirements, misinformation campaigns, unequal voting day resources, polling place intimidation, mass incarceration, cuts to healthcare, and policies that contribute to poverty. Texas should be encouraging all of its citizens, not discouraging some classes of voters for political advantage. (The most sinister of voter suppression is described at http://www.mhealthtalk.com/modern-killing-fields/.)
Sanctuary Cities: In 2017, Texas passed one of the nation’s strongest sanctuary city bans. Do you believe local police should be able to check the immigration status of the people they stop? Do you believe the state should punish local officials who don’t cooperate with all requests from federal immigration authorities?
Fear of deportation discourages undocumented workers from cooperating with law enforcement, reporting crimes, getting driver’s licenses, paying taxes, and more. Declaring war on immigrants makes no economic sense but is used as a political wedge issue. A federal judge in San Antonio last year blocked Texas from enforcing its ban on so-called sanctuary cities, questioning the constitutionality of a law that has pitted Republican state leaders against several Democratic-leaning cities. I see this as another example of States Rights and Local Control, as discussed above.
Gun Control: What changes, if any, should be made to the state’s gun laws?
Opinions on gun ownership vary widely in Texas, and many times Texans believe gun ownership is an all or nothing issue. It doesn’t have to be that way. As an advocate of balanced change, I know we can work together and come to reasonable compromises that protect our communities and uphold our 2nd amendment rights.
While some proposed gun control policies split the country, majorities in both parties do come together to support several key gun control measures that they find reasonable. These include: (1) blocking gun sales to people who are mentally ill or on federal no-fly or watch lists, (2) requiring background checks for private and gun show sales, (3) banning assault-style weapons, (4) creating a federal database to track gun sales, and (5) safe storage of guns and ammo. In Texas, I think our Legislature went too far with its Open Carry laws, allowing guns on campus in schools but banning them from the State Capitol, for example.
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