By Kaitlyn Benacquisto
Blog Content Contributor
Erin Zwiener is a Democratic candidate running to be a House District 45 representative. Here is the low-down on who she is, why she’s running, and her platform.
Wait– what does a state representative do?
Just about everything, according to Zwiener. They set the state’s budget, draw district lines for congressional and state legislative seats, set voting laws, and make decisions regarding issues such as health care, infrastructure and transportation.
“We also have a choice– we can be a body that diminishes people’s civil liberties, or we can be a body that protects them,” Zwiener said. “Unfortunately, we’ve often been a body that works against them. I’m hoping to change that.”
Who is Erin Zwiener?
Zwiener has roots in education, conservation, research, and activism. She holds a Bachelor of Science in natural resource conservation. She has also authored children’s books, taught university and community writing classes, and won Jeopardy (three times). Zwiener decided to run for office because she believes in representative government, something she thinks has been lacking in Texas.
“I believe in a Texas that fights for each and every person who lives here,” Zwiener said.
Why is she the right person for the job?
The bulk of Zwiener’s professional background lies in natural resource conservation. She was in charge of communicating with local landowners to implement state conservation programs. This means she had to sit down with people from “all walks of life,” as Zwiener said, to create creative solutions to moving forward in ways that fit everyone’s best interests.
“That’s the attitude I think we can really use in the legislature, especially as it’s gotten more and more divided,” Zwiener said of the creative mentality she employed while working in natural resource conservation.
What will she do for San Marcos, the fastest growing county as of 2016, as it continues to expand?
Zwiener wants city governments, like San Marcos, to keep local control. She told me that currently in Texas, no municipalities can set a minimum wage that differs from the state’s minimum wage. She wants to change this, and laws similar to it, to put power back in the hands of local governments.
“I want to make sure to keep our cities and our counties keeping the tools they need to manage through,” Zwiener said. “Those tools have been under attack recently.”
What other issues are on the candidate’s agenda?
Public education finance: Zwiener wants the state to restore university funding to a pre-2011 financial crisis level. She also wants to address the decreased funding to neighborhood schools, which creates a rise in local property taxes to make up for the cost difference, resulting in an increased cost of living. She wants the state to “chip in its fair share” to avoid situations like these all together.
Immigration: Zwiener wants to repeal the SB4 law, which bans sanctuary cities, amongst other things, in Texas.
“[The law] allows for racial profiling with people that law enforcement suspect aren’t in the country legally,” Zwiener said. “To me, that’s completely wrong and we need to repeal that law.”
Health care expansion: Zwiener wants Texas to take the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. This would mean health care coverage for another one and a half million Texans, as well as six billion dollars of federal funding for the state which can be used to drive down the cost of healthcare for everyone.
Online voter registration: Thirty-seven states have options to register to vote online, and Texas is not one of them. Zwiener says she will present a bill for online voting registration.
“It’s 2018, how are we still making everyone do this on paper?” Zwiener said.
You can access more information about Erin Zwiener and her platform here. Early voting begins Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 2, and Election Day is Nov. 6.
Featured image by Kaitlyn Benacquisto.