Women in politics: local politicians connect with Comets

Photos Courtesy of candidates. Illustration by Grace Cowger | Mercury Staff



Texas House Representatives Cassandra Hernandez, Victoria Neave Criado, Mihaela Plesa and Averie Bishop led a women running for office panel on campus on Feb. 12 to connect with college students before the upcoming March 5 primaries.

The UTD chapter of Texas College Democrats hosted the “Galentine’s Day Panel” bringing a turnout of at least 35 students. Two House districts cover UTD: TX-HD 70, which covers the Collin County part of campus, where Plesa is running for reelection, and TX-HD 12, which covers the Richardson part of campus, where Bishop is challenging 15-year incumbent Angie Chen Button. Hernandez is running for TX-HD 115, in nearby Carrolton, and Criado is running for TX-Senate District 16, in Richardson. The representatives emphasized their dedication to ensure college students feel represented in politics.

“I am a representative of the people, so [future legislation] is going to rely on the conversations that I’m having with students,” Plesa said.

Plesa spoke about creating opportunities for future politicians, including her attempts to recruit UTD students for district aid and leadership positions within her campaign. Hernandez said that one of the core pillars of her campaign is funding for public education.

“Investing in the younger generations, investing in education, investing in the assurance that people can have a part of the American dream,” Hernandez said.

Running for House District 115, which includes the cities of Addison, Carrollton, Coppell, Dallas, Irving and Farmers Branch, the closest part of Hernandez’s district lies just two blocks away from UTD. Hernandez discussed the importance of adequate funding and support for educational institutions, as well as the fallout from Senate Bill 17, which bans programs relating to diversity, equity and inclusion at public colleges. As a result, previous ODEI-related services have had to eliminate tangible resources including binders from the Galerstein Community Center, a resource offered to transgender students last semester.

“[The state of Texas is] taking away their ability and their access to resources to make those important, life-defining decisions,” Hernandez said, referencing Senate Bill 17.

Despite Texas’ stringent election laws, including restrictions on mail-in voting, UTD Student Government continues to push to reduce barriers to students voting, including their recent resolution to bring polling locations to campus. Building on this, Plesa said in the last legislative session she raised two points of order on a bill aimed at removing Texas from the electronic voter registration database.

In the race for House District 112, which covers the Dallas County portion of UTD, Bishop is well-known through her use of social media in political activism, where she has 88k followers on Instagram and 825k followers on TikTok. Bishop said that digital platforms can help supporters view political candidates as real people with real lives.

Amid these efforts to overcome voting barriers, Bishop urged voters to prioritize candidates who prioritize the needs of the people over political agendas.

“Vote for people that will place people first before politics,” Bishop said.



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