The 31 members of the Texas Senate consider proposed laws and resolutions, decide whether to refer proposed constitutional amendments for submission to the voters and appropriate all funds for the operation of state government. District 29 covers El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties. Texas senators get paid $7,200 a year.

Who’s running for this seat?

Derek Zubeldia, a Republican, did not respond.

César J. Blanco

César J. Blanco, 46, a Democrat, is a business owner and consultant and the incumbent in Texas Senate District 29.

Candidate Questionnaires

Candidates were asked to limit their responses to 100 words. Responses have been lightly edited for grammar.

Gov. Greg Abbott has spent billions of dollars on border enforcement, traditionally a federal responsibility. What is the proper state role in enforcing immigration laws?

Derek Zubeldia: No response.

César J. Blanco: The state should not be in the business of enforcing federal immigration laws. Texas needs the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform and address border security. Texas should also provide support to local governments and local law enforcement impacted by migration waves, including providing and assisting with humanitarian aid. Texas can and should also update and modernize our ports of entry to enhance security, improve cross-border traffic, and reduce wait times. If Texas continues to prioritize border security spending, the state needs to ensure there is transparency, accountability, and that taxpayer dollars are used effectively.

What steps should the state of Texas take to reduce gun violence, particularly mass shootings?

Derek Zubeldia: No response.

César J. Blanco: (1) Raise the age to purchase assault rifles to 21; (2) Expand background checks; (3) Enact red-flag laws (extreme risk protective orders); (4) Ban straw purchases; (5) Close online sales, stranger to stranger sales, and gun show sales loopholes; (6) Pass recommendations from the 2019 Texas Safety Action Report; (7) Require a cooling-off period for gun purchases; (8) Regulate high-capacity magazines; (9)Adequately invest in mental health; and (10) Hold social media platforms accountable.

In light of Roe v. Wade being overturned, what, if anything, should the state do about women’s health care issues and rights?

Derek Zubeldia: No response.

César J. Blanco: (1) Texas should reinstate women’s constitutional right to abortions; (2) Further provide exceptions to abortion restrictions in the case of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life; (3) Expand maternal and post-partum Medicaid coverage; (4) Expand Medicaid; (5) Invest in family planning services, including access to birth control; and (6) Not punish or criminalize healthcare providers for assisting women or providing reproductive health care.

What steps do you support to improve public education in Texas, both at the K-12 and college level?

Derek Zubeldia: No response.

César J. Blanco: (1) Increase the state’s share of public education funding to over 50%, which will also lower local property taxes; (2) Increase the basic allotment; (3) Increase investments in bilingual and ELL programs and educators; (4) Provide competitive pay for teachers; (5) Get politics out of the classroom; (6) Keep college affordable and within reach for working families; and (7) Increase investments in community colleges, CTE, trade schools, and apprenticeships.

What steps should the state take to address climate change?

Derek Zubeldia: No response.

César J. Blanco: (1) Texas should update and increase its renewable energy portfolio standard; (2) Hold polluters and bad actors accountable; (3) Address environmental racism; (4) Support development of renewable energy, including workforce training programs for a clean energy industry; (5) Better regulate and reduce flaring; (6) Seek binational agreements and cooperation to reduce emissions directly across the border that exceed state and national standards; (7) Repeal Texas’ affirmative defense for polluters; (8) Continue to build out Texas’ electric vehicle infrastructure.

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