Where are you from?
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1984, our family moved to the Fort Worth area when I was six. I have lived in North Texas ever since, mostly in Fort Worth. I graduated from Paschal High School.
Who are you, what do you do for a living?
I’m a machinist, a blue-collar worker in metalworking, and have been for about 8 years. I’ve had a varied work history though. After graduating high school I moved to Denton where I attended community college and worked full time at Wal-Mart to pay my bills/tuition (family didn’t have any money). When half your income goes to rent and you scrape by on Ramen noodles living paycheck-to-paycheck, you wonder if minimum wage isn’t really just wage slavery. After 2 years of that, my family’s small business started to take off and they asked if I would move back and work with them. I agreed and re-entered the world of woodworking as a machinist and machine programmer, something I had done for our family’s company during high school. It was short-lived, however, thanks to America’s trade policy with China. A big corporation took our family’s unique products to China and had them duplicated using cheap Chinese labor. Our small business lost half its customers and was bankrupt within a few months. 35 employees and 7 family members all lost their jobs after years of hard work growing a small business.
So I know what it’s like to work for a starvation wage, to lose your job to China, to not be able to attend college without going into massive debt, to be unable to afford much needed health care, to work hard and be rewarded with an economic recession and layoffs, to be both thankful and ashamed to be on unemployment while searching for a job, and to watch friends and coworkers struggle to raise families in a rigged economy.
The trouble with my story is that it is all too common:
– Over 5 million jobs have been lost to China and Mexico.
– 46% of Americans make less than $15/hour and 1 in 4 children live in poverty.
– Over 10 million workers lost their jobs and 8 million families lost their homes in the 2008 recession.
– 29 million Americans can’t afford healthcare insurance and 45,000 die each year because of it.
– Tens of millions more (myself included) pay for medical insurance that only covers any costs after a $5,000 deductible – we’re “under-insured” and discouraged for seeking medical services.
– The average college student graduates from college with $29,000 in debt and our national student loan debt has become a crisis as it has exceeded 1.4 trillion dollars and surpassed even our national credit card debt.
– 68% of working men and women in this country live paycheck-to-paycheck.
This is the richest nation in the history of the world. Do you think we can do better than this? I do.
What inspired you to get into politics and run for public office?
Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, and Larry Lessig. These folks have shown me: what it means to be a true Statesman, what the problems in our country really are and where they come from, and how it’s possible to enter politics while maintaining your principles and without selling out. Elizabeth Warren opened my eyes to a different kind of politics, one where a representative actually champions the people instead of wealthy donors and big corporations. I had always disliked politicians and felt politics was all corruption and backroom deals until I heard Elizabeth speaking out against predatory lending practices and rail against bankers in committee hearings. She seemed honest, genuine, and most importantly she didn’t get to her position by taking corporate donations but through many small donations from her constituents. Her spirit and her book, A Fighting Chance, are what woke me up and hooked me into politics and the fight for real change. Bernie inspired me to join the Progressive Movement that has formed around his run for the Democratic party presidential nomination and he was unknown to me until his announcement to run in May, 2015. When I first heard him speak I was intrigued, he sounded like a real person, not some calculating politician. When I googled him and watched videos of him dating back to the 80’s I was blown away at his consistency. Here was a guy who had been fighting for the middle class and working class like Elizabeth, but had been doing it for 30 years. In my opinion, Bernie Sanders best characterizes the kind of statesmen we need for the kind of government we don’t yet have – one that represents all the people. Jill Stein is my spirit animal. She best represents my political views and has shown me that democracy works best with more voices and more choices. Larry Lessig has awakened me to the root cause of the problems in our country: a corrupt political system. These are some of my personal political heroes, and I’m doing my best to follow in their footsteps and help pave the way for a better future.
Why run for US Congress, and not some other public office like City Council or State Representative?
I think our problems have grown so large that we need reform on a massive scale. A city councilman can’t vote to overturn bad trade deals that export millions of American jobs to China and Mexico. A state representative can’t vote to raise the federal minimum wage to a living wage or to institute universal healthcare. We need representatives who haven’t been corrupted by politics-as-usual, who aren’t bought and paid for by the wealthy elite, to go to Washington and fight for solutions to the problems we have. To fight for the issues that the majority of Americans are already in agreement on. To fight for a government that represents all the people, not just a few at the top.