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Editor-In-Chief+David+Bournat+interviewed+both+candidates+to+provide+Bellaire+students+with+a+better+understanding+of+each+candidates+policies+and+aspirations+as+a+member+of+the+House+of+Representatives.+

Photo provided by Sara Wolf

Editor-In-Chief David Bournat interviewed both candidates to provide Bellaire students with a better understanding of each candidate’s policies and aspirations as a member of the House of Representatives.

Q&A with 7th Congressional District House of Representative Candidates

February 27, 2021

Q&A with Lizzie Fletcher

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Photo provided by Elan Silberlicht

Campaign intern and senior Elan Silberlicht works with Lizzie Fletcher to encourage voters to re-elect her.

What will your priorities be if you are re-elected?

During my first term, my priorities were issues that were critical to our community: protecting and expanding access to affordable healthcare, rebuilding and making our infrastructure more resilient, growing our economy and making sure Houston leads the way to a better future. I’m the chair of the Science, Space, and Technology subcommittee on energy and I also serve on the subcommittee on the environment and the transportation and infrastructure committee. Through that work, I’ve been proud to bring Harvey funding to Houston and a tax to lower prescription drug costs. I will make sure that our energy jobs are included in the PPP, and I will make responding to the COVID-19 pandemic a priority going into the next congress.  

What do you suggest to high school students to become more politically active and informed on elections?

Definitely get involved. There are so many ways to become politically active but I think the key is to find what works for you. Whether it’s finding an organization that’s dedicated to helping candidates and their campaigns, or ones that advocate about issues. For students who have a particular passion or interest for getting involved, it’s really important to just get involved with what works best for you and sign up and be engaged. I’ve met with Bellaire students who are involved with Students Demand Action to talk about gun safety, and I talked to other students about global health concerns and animal rights issues. Finding something that you think about and matters to you and then finding other people who share that is an incredibly rewarding way to become active and to stay informed. It’s important to remember that political action is, in some ways about elections, but it’s also about advocacy between elections, like reaching out to representatives by sending letters or emails. When you work together with your friends to do this it’s meaningful, fun and important. 

Were there any specific organizations that you were involved with that led you to have an interest in politics?

I was involved in a lot of organizations when I was in high school. I definitely was one of those people who did lots of different things, some of which had more political elements to them. I took a trip in junior year to Washington, which was a really fun week of learning. I continued that interest in politics and the federal government. One of the clubs I was involved in was really focused on women’s reproductive healthcare and rights. I did Model UN and other things that I think were really helpful in shaping my understanding of issues and my engagement with people in the community. It was a great opportunity to get involved in high school.

How many high school students are involved in your campaign and what are their roles?

I don’t have the exact number, but we had tons of high school students and college students too who were interns and volunteers. They do some great work, mostly talking to voters and finding out what they want to know more about and want to see done. They also deliver yard signs and research issues to help us get the word out about our campaign and spread our message. I think the most important thing they do is talk to their peers and educate them about the importance of voting and the elections.

Why should high school students, even those we can’t vote, be engaged and interested in the upcoming election?

We are at a pivotal moment in our country’s history. In the last four years, and especially the last six months, we have seen just how much leadership matters. Everyone we elect, from the White House to the County Clerk, has a huge impact on our lives and I think that this generation will be our future leaders. Even if they can’t vote, they are incredibly influential in who will be elected. It is important to participate in whichever way you can, even if you can’t vote. Everything you do makes a big difference.

What was your previous job before you ran for office? What led to choosing that job?

Before I was elected, I practiced law here in Houston. I worked for about six years before going to law school, but I knew I enjoyed representing and advocating for people. I worked as a lawyer for about a dozen years before I put my name on the congressional ballot. I had the privilege of representing Houstonians from all walks of life in the courtroom, so I thought Congress was just another way to represent them. Being a lawyer really helped me know the people and the issues in the community. It made me better at working with my colleagues and knowing how best to address local issues. Being a lawyer isn’t the only way to get to congress, but it was very useful to learn how to advocate and fight for the people you represent.

Is that what made you want to run for office?

It was really just good training, not necessarily motivation. After the 2016 election, I realized that Houstonians need more representation in D.C. I wanted to bring our community there and bring us more attention. 

What is your favorite part about Houston?

That’s a very tough question. I don’t know if I can narrow it down, there’s just so much to love about this community. I think that ultimately what makes it so special is the people who live here. That’s why I’m so proud to represent Houston. We are problem solvers, we know how to work together and I think I’m bringing that spirit to Washington. I also think that the people in this district have really engaged with me and they are so thoughtful and committed to making both our community and country better. I couldn’t be prouder to represent them.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Free time is hard to come by these days, but every friday night I have a Tex-Mex date planned with family and friends. I love spending time with them and just connecting with the community. It really doesn’t feel like work whenever I’m focused on spending time with the community because I consider it such a privilege to be able to represent them and advocate for them.

Are there any restaurants in particular that you enjoy frequently?

It varies every week because we like to rotate which restaurants we go to, but Pappasito’s and Chiles can never go wrong. I really like Ninfas, I’ve been going there for most of my life. There’s just so many great places to choose from, so it’s hard to pick just one.

What is one word voters should think of when they think of your campaign?

Genuine. My campaign and my seeking re-election comes from a place of genuine belief in our community and what we can accomplish. I believe we can lead by example and improve the rest of our country. I believe in the people who live in our community and I’ve seen the great things we can do together. I want to do what’s right for them and I hope that people know our campaign is real and focused on doing what’s best for them and Houston. It truly all comes from the heart.

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Q&A with Wesley Hunt

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Photo provided by Levi Fox

Campaign intern and junior Levi Fox phonebanks for Wesley Hunt.

What will your priorities be if you take office?

My priorities, first, will be to make sure that we talk about fossil fuels in a more honest way that’s beneficial to Houston, Texas. Houston is the energy capital of the world, and this corridor has the entire energy corridor within it. And look, I’m a millennial, I’m not a climate denier. But it is also my job to tell the truth about fossil fuels and how we move forward. I believe that we will eventually get an abundant energy source, but you can’t get there without the oil and gas industry here in Houston, Texas. There are 250,000 jobs that are associated with just the oil and gas industry. And there’s also so many tangential industries that basically live and breathe off the oil and gas industry here in Houston. This is one of the greatest cities in the world, and we got to keep it that way. I want to help the private sector innovate to the next future energy source, not demonize the oil and gas industry that has given us so much. That’s my number one priority. That’s how the economy works, and that’s what we have to do to make sure that we even have a future in Houston. Flooding in the bay is another huge priority for me. A hurricane season still comes every year, so we have to make sure that we protect our infrastructure and our homes. I also want to make sure that my family and y’all are safe. That’s what we have to do. Defunding the police and talking about having fewer police on the ground — that’s not going to get that done. As somebody who’s a person of color, I get it. I’ve been profiled, and I know what it feels like. But I also understand that these people actually keep us safe every day, and I want to find a way to work with them to get better, not against them.

How do you suggest high school students become more politically active and informed over campaign issues and national and local elections?

Young people. Right now, we all have a phone, a supercomputer in our hands. The information that you need about all the candidates is literally in the palm of your hand. Look them up. See what they stand for. Don’t necessarily read biased articles from various news sources. Go to their websites, see their stances, see what they stand for. And then most importantly, do what you’re doing. Call us. Ask us some questions. I’ll be happy to answer your questions. I’ll be happy to take any of your calls. But get to know the people that are actually running. Don’t rubber stamp someone because of their party. Take a look at their background. How do they feel about the service? What’s their family like? What are they like? Are they somebody that you can rally behind and help out? The one cool thing about my campaign is that there are over 180 college-aged and high school students working on it. I think that’s awesome. The reason why they got engaged is because they found out about me and realized that I’m somebody that they could get behind and be a mentor to. At the end of the day, that’s what I need y’all to do as well.

You said that there’s 180 college and high school students working for you. What are their roles within the campaign?

Their roles range from knocking on doors with me to block walking, phone banking, and making sure that we have the right information flow that’s going out to all the various communities. These students do everyday community outreach. What I really like about it is that these kids go home and tell their parents about the work they’ve done on the campaign and how they’ve been getting involved in it. Their parents tell other people and it kind of goes from there. In the end, it all started because their child decided to get involved in politics. I love being a part of that.

I was there when you came to Bellaire High School and gave a speech to the Young Republicans Club. Have you continued doing that? How have you interacted with the local high school students in the district?

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit us pretty hard. I know y’all are just getting back to school. I haven’t been able to do nearly as much as I would have liked to have done throughout this time period. But, I am reaching out to schools and young people via Zoom. If you want to set something up, get more involved, or learn more about me, then set up a Zoom call. As school starts to open up, you better believe I’m willing to get back out and about, engaging you all because you’re the future.

What do you recommend to high school students, even those who cannot vote, on how to become more interested in the election?

Take in as much information as you can. Think about who you are as an individual. Think about your value set. Think about your community and figure out who and what is the best fit for your vision for America.

How did you become involved and interested in politics? Were you interested in politics in high school? How did you get to your current career path?

I was thinking about it for a while, but I didn’t think it would happen this soon. But, we’re here and it happened. My dad raised me to believe that service is not about when it’s convenient for you, but it’s about when your country needs you. I want to tell these young people as well to be ready. When your country calls you, be prepared to get to work for it. We’re going to need you as well. If you’re somebody who’s interested in fulfilling your civic duty in the form of politics, get involved and get engaged now. Start framing, again, what you want your vision for America to be.

You said that you didn’t expect to be running for office so soon. What was the deciding factor that made you run?

This is Houston, Texas. Traditionally a Republican district. We’ve had former president George H.W. Bush as the first congressman in this seat, followed by Bill Archer and by John Culberson. 2018 was the first time that we have had a Democrat Congresswoman in this seat. Initially, I was willing to give her a chance because she ran as a moderate, somebody that would represent the district appropriately. We have found out that she’s not. She votes with one side, the left, over 99% of the time. That’s not the district. When I saw this, I recognized that, particularly given the oil and gas industry here and taking a pragmatic approach to that energy, I realized that I have got to step in even though it may not be the best timing. If we go another two years with the Democrats, that could be the end of our industry here in Houston. That can happen, and that’s what got me in the race. 

What is your favorite thing or part about Houston?

My favorite part about Houston is the people. I get to wake up every day and live Martin Luther King’s dream, not being judged by the content of my character or by the color of my skin. The majority of this district is white. And yet, here I am to represent Congressional District Seven here in Houston, Texas. That’s so cool to me. This is the Houston that I grew up in — the city I know. We actually care less about what people look like and care more about their values. We care more about being Houstonians and living by the Texan way. I believe that’s what our country needs more than ever. Texas values liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and abiding by the Constitution. People are getting behind me because I think they agree.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I workout as much as I can. I think it’s really good to have a strong mind, body and soul. I try to read at least five articles every day and, most importantly, I just try to stay grounded into who I am. I just did a podcast with Joe Rogan last week and it was released two hours ago today. That’s pretty cool to do that in your free time, sitting across from Joe Rogan for two and a half hours.

What is your main message? What is one word that people should associate with your campaign?

Sacrifice. My team, me and my family are giving a lot to make sure that we have good representation here in this district. We’ve given up a lot, but that’s what this country is founded upon — sacrifice — and not just a microcosm of that back. I think that if we have more people in Congress that live by the sacrifice moniker, we’d be way better off. I want to be a part of that next solution, that next person to get to the right solution. I want to make sure that you have a great future, and you and your children have an America to grow up in.

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