Jessica Mason is a Democrat running for U.S. Congress in Texas District 30.
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I was born and raised in Dallas, and I attended our public schools. My mother and I lived in communities across the district, all of which were underserved and impoverished. The neighborhood I grew up in looks no better than it did 28 years ago. In some areas, it’s worse.
Now more than ever, we need a representative who hears our voices, feels our pain, and lives our struggles. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our community hard and amplified the inequities already present in our district. We cannot afford to go back to business as usual.
Dallas has the worst uninsured rate for a large city in the nation. Zip codes in our district have some of the lowest life expectancies in the state of Texas. We’re tired of politicians using dubious terms like “affordable healthcare” and “accessible healthcare,” only to use our tax dollars to subsidize insurance companies and big pharma. Healthcare is a human right and should be free for everyone – we need Medicare for All.
While the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in its original form, we still aren’t truly free. We are in the New Jim Crow era where our prison system is legalized slavery. Poorly constructed legislation like the 1994 Crime Bill has been an abject failure. Our criminal justice system must be one of rehabilitation, not punishment. This starts with ending cash bail, legalizing marijuana and expunging past convictions, and ensuring formerly incarcerated individuals have the right to vote and have job opportunities upon release.
There is a clear lack of investment in our communities. We must build a safe environment for our children to play, learn, and socialize. To start, we must dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Our children deserve well-funded public schools, after-school programs, and community centers. I support teachers unions, universal pre-k, and tuition-free college and vocational school. Furthermore, I support reparations to address the lack of homeownership and limited access to small business loans in communities of color. Families in my district deserve their shot at the American dream, and we can deliver this promise by investing in them.
Dallas is home to several toxic waste sites, and parts of our district have water with lead concentration levels higher than Flint, Michigan. These problems didn’t happen overnight; for decades, they were ignored by apathetic politicians. We have waited long enough. Immediate action is needed to address the global climate struggle and address the impact environmental racism has had on Black, Brown, and Indigenous People. We must create jobs to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and ensure we all have access to clean air and fresh water.
Every American has the right to a home where they can safely exist and live in dignity. I work full-time, providing resources to affordable housing communities across Dallas, and I know we cannot wait for change. We must demand it. In Dallas, there are currently 19 affordable housing units for every 100 people in need. We will enshrine the right to housing in law by passing the Green New Deal, increasing the supply of homes for our community, improving the quality of existing affordable housing, and strengthening protections to stop predatory practices on renters.
As the daughter of a proud Local 745 truck driver, I understand the importance of having a union to guarantee fair pay and good benefits. Over the past 50 years, we have witnessed the weakening of unions' power in America; as a result, pay for the working class has stagnated, and wealth inequality has risen dramatically. To raise the standard of living for the vast majority, we need to unleash the power of workers to form unions and collectively bargain for a fair shot. We will fight for a $15 minimum wage, ban “right to work” provisions, and pass the PRO Act.
Xenophobic rhetoric and policies spewed by right-wing politicians have forced our immigrant neighbors to live in perpetual fear that they will be deported. At the same time, inaction by out-of-touch leaders has stalled progress. We need to fundamentally reform our immigration system to reflect who we want to be — a country where our fellow neighbors are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their immigration status. This means providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented Americans, abolishing ICE, and ending all federal contracts with private detention camps.
Getting corporate money out of politics is critical to restoring faith in our democracy. We cannot remedy our country's problems and alleviate the plight of the working class when politicians accept cash for corporations, banks, and industries that work against the people's interests. We must also close the revolving door and ban members of Congress from holding stock. The responsibility of elected officials is to serve the people, not wealthy corporations or their stock portfolios; therefore, I am not accepting any corporate PAC money. My campaign is 100% grassroots, funded by the people and for the people.
Despite our country having more than enough wealth and technology to provide a basic standard of living, Americans are struggling to get by. For America to remain competitive in the 21st-century economy, we need to invest in more public goods, free Americans from the burden of debt, and ensure our financial system works for everyday Americans, not just the wealthy few. Providing Americans with a basic standard of living is fundamental for our communities to thrive. We must close the wealth gap by creating a public banking system, canceling all medical and student debt, and investing in more safety nets like universal basic income.