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Zoom Candidate Forum #2: Congressional Districts 17, 21,25, 31, and 35

By Sumaiya Malik


The Second Forum with Facebook live was hosted by WiseUp TX, IACT, Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, Korean American Association of Greater Austin, SABA Austin, APAPA, AACCC, ACAN, and Network of Asian American Organizations on Saturday, August 22 for the broader Asian community within the Central Texas area. It focused on the candidates running for Congress and was moderated by Shenghao Wang from Austin Asian Communities Civic Coalition. Wang is a Harvard Law School graduate and a proud local activist, AACCC steering committee member and volunteer with APAPA. Below is a list of candidates present and what they said.

Ted Brown Libertarian Congressional District TX-17

Brown is a Libertarian who advocates for personal and economic freedom, limited government and is anti-war. He also feels that it should be easier to get any kind of permit or license from the city. His main issues are national debt, cutting spending in the pentagon and “bring our troops home.” He feels that the US should not be involved all over the world. He believes in free trade and ending the war on marijuana.

He spoke in depth about the state of police department. “We need to change laws regarding police,” he said and highlighted programs that givespolice access to military equipment.

“There is a big disconnect between police and public,” he added.

Rick Kennedy Democrat Congressional District TX-17

Software engineer by profession, Rick Kennedy’s main concerns are health care and immigration. He talked about the government’s inadequate response to Covid-19.

Pete Sessions Republican Congressional District TX-17

“The American Dream is still alive!” repeated Session during his conversation with Wang. “There are reasons why so many people have come to the US to make their lives and children’s lives better,” he added. He feels that the American dream best accomplished when people have jobs and opportunities and they plan for their future to make their jobs better. He presented an upbeat image of the stock market as well.

When asked if he thought Donald Trump followed rule of law that is of utmost value to Sessions, he said he thinks the president and the attorney general both do follow the rule of law. He clarified that he only agrees with the president 98.5% of the time.

Wendy Davis Democrat TX-21

“I’ve served in Texas state senate for 6 years,” said Davis and reminded the listeners of her 13 hour filibuster on June 25, 2013 to block Senate Bill 5, a measure which included more restrictive abortion. She is the first person in family to go to college. She would like to make sure that people are able to support their families and have access to health care. “We should celebrate diversity and welcome those who come here with open arms,” she said talking about immigration.

Davis served on public education in state senate. She believes ‘that student safety is prime.’

When asked how long she has been in the district, she said, “I have an apartment in District 21 since 2009” She has lived continuously for more than five years.

She reminded the listeners that her opponent U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a freshman Republican from Austin.

Bill Kelsey Libertarian TX-25

“I grew up in Jordan,” said Kelsey when he talked about having international experience. He travelled to India and Afghanistan as well.

He said that he is tired of our government’s view of immigrants and added, “I have always appreciated immigrants I wish to simplify the process.

I will do everything I can. I welcome everybody from everywhere.” Kelsey complimented his opponent Democrat Julie Oliver for having a health plan he too agrees with.

Talking about how best to deal with Covid-19 pandemic he said, “I would like a society in which the presidents could get up there and say this is what the scientists are telling me.

This is what you have to do.” He shared that his daughter is a physician and he appreciated the work of healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Julie Oliver Democrat TX-25

Julie Oliver will be on the November ballot against incumbent Republican Representative Roger Williams and Libertarian Bill Kelsey.

She reminded the listeners that TX-25 covers 30% of Travis County, Austin, Burnet, Killeen, all the way up to outside Forth Worth and Dallas. She emphasized how she is fighting corruption and is in favor of fair taxes.

Talking about her education, she said she was a recipient of Pel Grant. She would also like to reduce the cost of healthcare. In the chat on Facebook following the forum, she went into details and said, “Medicare is prohibited by law from negotiating pharmaceutical pricing.

And there has been so much consolidation in the industry driving up costs.”

“One more point of clarification- universal healthcare through M4A does not mean government-run healthcare; it’s not the VA.

It means that Medicare pays the bills and the patient doesn’t receive surprise billings,” she clarified.

Donna Imam Democrat TX-31

All of NW Austin and suburbs such as Round Rock, Leander, Georgetown, Liberty Hill, Killeen, with the largest armored military base and Temple, come under TX-31.

Imam is running for Congress because she wants to solve common man issues of being laid off, difficulty in paying high health insurance, and high cost of college education.

She worries that 401s are being lowered down. “We have more than enough wealth to bring [cost of] health coverage down,” she said.

She would like education to be debt free and wants to take these things to Washington DC and make it a reality for every single thing in our country.

Clark Patterson Libertarian TX-31

Patterson brought attention to government debt. On his website he has twelve proposals to combat ‘US federal debt of 23.2 trillion’.

To combat the current US federal debt of $23.2 trillion and the current US unfunded liabilities of $210 trillion, Clark Patterson ardently advocates, at a minimum, the following twelve (12) Libertarian proposals which include ending war on drugs, poverty and terrorism.

When talking about finding solutions to the global pandemic, Patterson shared “Freedom is the only way to work our way out of this.”

He opposes mandatory lockdown and thinks freedom is the only way to work our way out of this.

“New development in creating the vaccine is the answer. Shutting down the economy is simply not the answer.

It’s borderline authoritarianism,” he commented. To him, top down approach is simply not working.

Lloyd Doggett Democrat TX-35

Lloyd Doggett II is an American attorney and politician who is a U.S. Representative from Texas. A member of the Democratic Party, he has represented a district based in the state capital and his hometown, Austin, since 1995, currently numbered as Texas’s 35th congressional district.

In his opening dialog, Doggett reminded listeners that he was part of the first Asian Pacific Islander Month celebration in Austin.

“Your culture and family values have made my home time much stronger,” he addressed the community.

“The wall fails to recognize the value of immigrants in our country,” he said talking about Donald Trump’s administration trying to build the wall on the border.

He wished everyone to stay safe and healthy and asked aloud, “What has happened to our beloved country?

It is the result of Donald Trump’s denial and betrayal.” Doggett thought that until we resolve the health crisis, we cannot get economic growth. Doggett urged the listeners with a line of action saying, “I hope you will do all things necessary to leave no Asian American behind on census and voting. Let’s vote to protect our democracy from Trump.”

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