Congress comes to the Comets

Meadow Pena | Mercury Staff

UTD Democrats is hosting a congressional debate for Texas District 32 on Jan. 18, 2024, in the SSA Auditorium from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Four candidates competing for the Democratic party’s primary nomination will attend this student organized event.  

Texas District 32 is the congressional district for the House of Representatives, which encompasses the entire UTD campus. Since 2019, the district has been represented by Colin Allred , who is retiring from this position to run for U.S.Senate. A total of 10 candidates are running in the Democratic primary for this highly competitive nomination, and four candidates are running for the Republican primary on March 5.  

“We are excited to see what each of the candidates brings to the race,” vice president of UTD Democrats Isabella Spartz said. “This is one of the most diverse panels for a congressional debate: two black men, one trans woman and one openly LGBT person already in the state house. We have a lot going on here.”  

There will be four Democratic candidates attending the debate: Brian Williams, Julie Johnson, Justin Moore and Callie Butcher. Williams would be the first trauma surgeon in Congress and seeks to place emphasis on gun violence prevention, health care access and reproductive freedom, among other issues. Johnson is an attorney and current Texas House Representative for District 115 who commits herself to reproductive rights, gun violence prevention and stopping “the extremist agenda that’s pushing hate and divisiveness,” according to her website. Moore is a civil rights attorney who prioritizes the protection of civil liberties, climate action and education. Butcher is an attorney who supports LGBTQ+ rights, campaign finance reform and an end to predatory student loan practices. More detailed information about each candidate and their various policy positions and goals can be found on their websites, which are linked to their names.  

“This is a community event,” president of UTD Democrats Meadow Pena said. “We want to open it to all of the residents in Texas 32. Filling the entire auditorium up is our goal.”  

Pena and Spartz said since the four candidates all share similar perspectives on major issues, the discussion will instead focus on what substantive approaches they will take to implement and enforce their policies if elected.  

“Because Texas 32 is a strong Democratic district, whoever wins this primary essentially wins the race for Congress,” Spartz said. “This makes it even more important for students to show up and hear what their potentially future representatives have to say.”  

UTD Democrats has reached out to organizations including Plano Democrats, Collin County Democrats and Stonewall Democrats, who have all publicized this event. Pena expects a large turnout for the event because of the intense competition for the race. As part of UTD Democrats’ outreach, they encourage students to volunteer for the event.  

“I think one of the main points I just kind of want to get across is that anything could happen in the government and we’re seeing the worst of it happen right now,” Spartz said. “But students are going to step up, fight back and organize. We will keep bringing elected officials, representatives and candidates to students so that we can keep bridging that gap between them and their politicians.” 

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