MSU Texas Democrats host local candidates

MSU Texas Democrats hosted democratic candidates Mel Martinez, Gus Trujillo and Jason Hester at Dillard Room 101 Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. The organization was hosted, moderated and organized by Luis Serna of MSU Democrats.

Turnout was low with roughly a seventh of the available seats occupied during the event, but many of the absences were attributed to the March For Peace, which ran at the same time and attracted over a hundred student protesters.

Gus Trujillo
Candidate for Texas’ 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, Oct. 14. (Bridget Reilly)

Amarillo-born Gus Trujillo is a candidate for Texas’ 13th Congressional District Seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite being a Democrat, Trujillo spoke of the dangers of polarization and partisanship of modern politics, saying he’d be willing to go against his own party if it were the will of the residents of his district.

“I am listening to everybody, but I’m going in there as well to be part of the power that’s there. I always tell people that my number one priority, number one voice, is the people of this district, not the president [and] not the party,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo praised activism in today’s college students and said he felt it important to keep students invested and educated about politics. As a congressman, he hopes to fight for student loan debt forgiveness and make sure there are jobs available for students after they graduate.

“[If elected] I would continue to work towards forgiving student loans, providing some kind of relief for them, and also just investing in technology. I think technology at this point is going to be the best way to go forward. We’re gonna try and bring back manufacturing, but I think that we have to possibly reconfigure our education system to teach people what the future jobs are going to be,” Trujillo said.

Mel Martinez
Candidate for Wichita Falls District 3 city council, Mel Martinez, Oct. 14. (Bridget Reilly)

Unlike his fellow Democrat’s, Mel Martinez, who is running for Wichita Falls City Council District Three, is not local to the area he is hoping to get elected in. However, he says he chose Wichita Falls as his home eight years ago and has since had a deepening of relationships in the city. As a city councilor he hopes to better represent the diversity of the city.

“One of the challenges for us is that our current city council is not representative of the community of they serve. Not being representative of that community [and] not being able to really consider the perspective of the other [Wichita Falls citizens], holds them back in making decisions that are best for the whole….I have put my name out there in hopes that I might be chosen to offer that kind of different perspective,” Martinez said.

Martinez, who has a daughter attending MSU, said he believed college students were pivotal to the nation’s transition through this current turbulent climate. He also promised if elected, to be involved with organizations at MSU and to be available to the students if they needed him. He also hopes he can convince some MSU graduates to make Wichita Falls their permanent home.

“I think that college students are going to be providing us a great, great wisdom in the coming years,” Martinez said. “I want to be a part of the life at Midwestern. I want to see student life. I want to interact with student groups. I’d like to , if elected, ensure that the campus body has a line to reach me and talk with me and converse what their expectations of the city are…. I want them to give serious thought of making [Wichita Falls] their home.”

Jason Hester
Candidate for Wichita Falls District 4 city council, Jason Hester, Oct. 14. (Bridget Reilly)

Jason Hester, a lifetime Wichitan, small business owner and military man who spent time in Qatar and Bahrain, is running for Wichita Falls City Council District Four. He supports small business and has attributed that to a major reason he decided to run. He also hopes to lessen spending on projects he feels are unnecessary and put that money into the community.

“There is a lot of wasteful spending in our district. We built a dock that cost 1.6 million dollars, and you can’t fish off of it; you can’t jump off of it…. I’m running as a business owner to spend less money on frivolous stuff, and lets spend it on our roads, getting more business here, things we can actually do,” Hester said.

Like Martinez, Hester hopes to use his time in city council, if elected, to find ways to retain MSU students after they graduate. He hopes to bring entertainment to the city for the younger generation to enjoy.

“What’s important to [college students] is what is important to [the city council]. My main platform is trying to get stuff here for the younger crowd to do here in Wichita. A lot of people graduate [MSU] and move to Fort Worth, move out of the city, so if we had something here entertainment wise to keep them here then that would benefit everyone,” Hester said.

Voting for the city council and district representatives takes place on Nov. 3, the same day as the presidential election, with early voting taking place throughout October. Along with the council and district 13 representative, Wichita Falls voters will have the chance to vote for United States senator, mayor, Wichita Falls I.S.D. school bond and city charter among others.