When it comes to African-Americans, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is making it clear that one of her number one priorities are to listen and hear the voices and issues from every sector of the Black community.
“We will not leave anyone out of this campaign,” Davis said in an exclusive interview with the African-American News&Issues. “I want to be in touch with the people. I want to hear them speak and I am very interested in listening to all their ideas, and concerns.”
Davis is locked into a tight battle with Republican nominee and current Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott that is expected to go down to the wire.
Davis, is trying to make history and be the first woman governor of the state since Ann Richards election in 1990. – A feat that will set Texas politics on its ears.
However, the issue is making history is not on Davis’s mind. It is reaching out to the community and finding a way to connect her message with African-Americans and others and have that message reflect the voices of the people from every community.
“The African American vote is very important to me,” she said. “We will boost our exposure and presence in African-American newspapers and on radio. We are also seeking visits to African-American churches throughout each city and community.”
She describes herself as a candidate who not only understands, but also has experienced many of the challenges that face the poor, disadvantages and working class Texans.
Davis said she would make every effort to ensure voters feel a part of her campaign.
“It is not about me talking to people and only communicating my ideas and platforms. It’s about using the power of listening,” she said. “Each time I go to a different community or speak to groups I learn something new. It is exciting because you learn and are able to consider something important that you have not thought of before. My hope is to get in front of as many people as possible to have that type of conversation.”
Raised by a single mother, She began working after school at age 14 to help support her mom and three siblings. By 19, she was on her way to becoming a single mother, working two jobs just to make ends meet.
Knowing that education was the only path to creating a better life for her young daughter, she enrolled at Tarrant County Community College. After two years, she transferred to Texas Christian University.
With the help of academic scholarships, student loans, and state and federal grants, Davis became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, graduated first in her class, and went on to Harvard Law School.
After graduating with honors from Harvard Law, She helped grow a successful business in Fort Worth and served nine years on the Fort Worth City Council, where she was recognized as a leader on economic development issues. As chair of the City’s Economic Development Committee, Davis helped create numerous public-private partnerships and successfully helped bring thousands of new jobs to Tarrant County.
She was elected to the Texas Senate in 2008, defeating a longtime incumbent in a race widely considered one of the biggest upsets in Texas politics in recent years.
She said she hopes to use a similar strategy to reach African-Americans in the way she did during her State Senate Campaign in Fort Worth.
“I also knocked on a lot of doors during my Senate campaign and it was a helpful way for me to take my message straight to the people,” she said. “Now that I am running statewide, I am going to need a lot of help to knock on all the doors in the communities we will visit.”
Part of her on the road message includes economic development and jobs for underdeveloped and disadvantaged communities.
Improvements to public education system and preparing economically underdeveloped areas by finding solutions to build them up are at the top of Davis priorities to address the issues.
While serving on the Fort Worth City Council, Wendy took the lead on economic development. Working with community, political, and business leaders, her efforts yielded $260 million in new investment, thousands of jobs, and revitalized communities.
While a state senator, she authored a bill to put “Texas Jobs First” requiring the state government, when possible, to give Texas companies the first opportunity at contracts, and passed legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to grant preference to local contractors for certain Texas road projects.
Davis has also pushed for and supported policies that would create jobs for our service men and women upon their re-entry into civilian life and make sure that veterans, service members, and their families are provided every opportunity for a quality education.
On education, Davis said too many of our public schools and universities are overcrowded and under funded and too many of students end up never graduating from high school.
Davis has fought to improve public schools by reducing the number of standardized tests students are forced to take, and by negotiating the first cost-of-living increase for retired teachers in more than a decade.
In 2011, Wendy filibustered a budget that cut over $5 billion from education funding and she has continued to fight tirelessly to restore that funding to education.
“We need a 21st Century education system that is going to equip our young people for jobs in the 21st Century,” she said. “We also need to use economic development tools and expertise to develop partnerships and investments being sensitive to the needs of each community and studying those needs and finding ways to provide opportunities.”
Davis said she hopes that African-Americans will be open and candid with her on issues affecting their communities.
Some other issues that may come up on the campaign trail include issues in the criminal justice system, prison reform and execution case reviews, school closings and the gentrification of African-American communities in inner city neighborhoods.