POLITICS: Congressional candidate speaks at TAMIU
By Mireilly Gonzalez
Bridge Staff Intern
Published Wednesday, March 23, 2022
One of two candidates to visit TAMIU prior to the primaries, a congressional candidate hopes to gain the support of young voters.
On Feb. 21, Jessica Cisneros spoke to Texas A&M International University students who gathered to hear about her most important issues. The campus organization TAMIU Student Democrats organized the event; several members took the front row seats, excited to hear her speak.
She and Beto O’Rourke were the only candidates running for the Texas primaries to visit TAMIU. The campus visit occurred just eight days before Texas primary day–which included voting for Texas governor and the 28th District for the House of Representatives.
“There’s so much talent here,” Cisneros said following a self introduction. She identifies as a Laredo native and child of immigrant parents. One of her first comments centered on higher-education and how it challenges the community. Cisneros reminded students of the importance of their own experience, including their adversities.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your experiences are not valid,” Cisneros said. “You are all smart and capable, and you can rise up to the challenge… despite all costs.” The students in the front row cheered in agreement.
According to the 2021 U.S. Census, only 19.4% of Laredoans age 25 or older had a bachelor’s degree or higher education.
A few milestones on Texas education by opponent Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, include authoring the TEXAS Grant Program and funding education programs like the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program and the Federal TRiO programs.
Texas Monthly reports that Cuellar won the 2020 primary by a narrow margin, at 51.6% and Cisneros at 48.4%.
“If this community didn’t believe that we deserved better,” Cisneros said, “there is no way that a 26-year-old person challenger could’ve earned [as much of] the vote.”
In light of the loss of jobs and lives brought on by COVID-19, Cisneros supports a single-payer Medicare For All, which expands coverage to include dental, hearing, vision and mental health.
Meanwhile, Cuellar advocates for strengthening medicare for seniors. Cisneros’ criticism is that the Congressman “voted to weaken the Affordable Care Act.”
Cuellar said to San Antonio Report that he “protected and provided affordable health care while serving in Congress by passing and improving the Affordable Care Act to lower health costs and prescription drug prices.”
Another aspect where Cuellar and Cisneros disagree is in the use of energy—Cuellar supports fossil fuels while Cisneros advocates for environmentally friendly energy.
“[Our political campaign is] not taking a single dime out of corporate tax money,” Cisneros told The Bridge. “I’m going to be the most independent candidate to actually address these issues and one of them is making sure we fight for the Green New Deal.”
Cisneros also commented on the water line breaks in Laredo, “We can create new jobs and like, revamping all of the old water infrastructure.”
According to a White House statement from November 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is one way Biden’s campaign addresses the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure,” which includes fixing water pipes and systems.
One last issue in Cisneros’ agenda is LGBTQ+ rights. Her goal as a representative is to create an inclusive, diverse environment for everyone.
“This campaign is about love for our community, and LGBTQ people are part of this community,” she said.
Meanwhile, opponent Cuellar received criticism for supporting the Defense of Marriage Act in prior years. Yet, in 2020, when the Supreme Court ruled to protect gay and transgender workers, he tweeted: “A major victory for #LGBTQ+ rights! No American should be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. We must keep up the fight until we achieve equality for all.”