Greg Hitt Candidate Questionnaire
1. What actions have you taken to improve your community?
I am dedicated to progressive values that improve our community and have chosen to advance those values by working within the Travis County Democratic Party. I have been a precinct chair and president of the North by Northwest Democrats. I have organized volunteers and joined them in block walking, phone banking and mailing to get voters to the polls to elect candidates committed to fighting injustice and protecting the most vulnerable in our society. In addition to candidates, I have worked to support a variety of issue campaigns that are important to the local community such as funding for education and opposing irresponsible development in neighborhoods. I have block-walked against a law that undercut unionized taxi drivers.
In addition to my political activism, I believe in volunteering to improve my local neighborhood and community. I volunteer for the Legal Services of Central Texas and have been a rider and fundraiser for the AIDS ride of Austin. I was a proud sponsor of KLRU’s production of “Considering Matthew Shepard,” the story of a young man brutally murdered for his sexual orientation. As the brother of a gay man, discrimination against those for their sexual orientations cuts me deeply. I also feel it is important to model fair behavior and tried to do that in the eight years I coached children’s soccer.
2. Have you advocated for judicial reform previously? If so, please explain.
Real reform cannot take place without federal and state laws that address systemic flaws.
I have always worked hard to elect progressive Democratic lawmakers who are committed to working on policy changes that impact judicial reform. As a civil judge, I will work with legislators by providing my insight and assistance toward identifiable systemic changes that need to be made to make sure access to justice is not denied. In addition, I will make every effort to make sure every person on my staff understands that oftentimes people who come to court on family law matters, or matters in which they represent themselves, have gone through a degree of trauma as part of their journey to the courthouse, and that all efforts should be made to make sure litigants are welcomed and their cases are treated with the seriousness and dignity they deserve.
3. Please explain in what ways have you worked for domestic violence prevention?
According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, one in three individuals will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. That is unconscionable. It is critical to not only adequately fund the education and prevention programs but also to elect criminal law judges, district attorneys, and sheriffs that understand the issue and are held accountable for implementing sound policy and enforcement. I have worked to turn out the vote and get good people elected to these positions. As the father of three daughters, I also strive to educate, rather than shield, them about the psychosocial impact of domestic violence. We need to move away from any position that blames the victim for violence. Boys and young men must be taught to respect the physical and emotional integrity of girls and women. No woman should ever be blamed for violence done to her.
4. Do you have any concerns regarding gun violence in our state and community?
I have deep concerns about all forms of violence. I grew up in Austin and attended U.T., and like many Austinites, we grew up in the shadow of the Charles Whitman shooting from the UT tower. That was 52 years ago. It marked the loss of innocence for the community and law enforcement when it comes to gun violence. The number of mass shootings around the country this year alone is frightening. There are, of course, daily gun deaths in our state that don’t make the news and we must be vigilant about electing candidates with progressive Democratic Party values who will work to keep our communities safe.
A tiny portion of the electorate has fixated on ideas from the 18th century to accommodate possession of military technology made for a 21st-century battlefield. No civilian needs a machine gun.
5. Have you advocated for criminal justice reform in the past? If so, please explain.
I believe that Travis County now has criminal court judges that are committed to reform and I am proud of the work I have done for the Travis County Democratic Party that got these individuals on the bench. There has been bipartisan agreement that mass incarceration is a deep problem in our country that needs to be addressed.
6. What state policies would you like to see in place to address racial justice? What actions have you taken to racial justice?
Throughout my career practicing law in Travis County, I have been committed to treating individuals fairly. I have worked tirelessly to elect qualified candidates of all races who are willing to work on reform. I will continue to dedicate my career to guard against inequity for each party that comes before me. I pledge to treat all individuals who come in front of the 459th fairly, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or immigration status.
7. Are there ways the justice system disadvantages workers? If so, what changes would you advocate for?
Unfortunately, as with many inequities in our society, wealth wins too often. There is no question that wealth, whether its corporations or individuals, can be used to corrupt and manipulate a system. The changes that need to be made are two-fold 1) fund and support the watchdog groups that fight the efforts to manipulate the system in addition 2) work to support the passage of laws that fix loopholes and other unintended consequences of any particular legislation affecting the justice system. My court will be a “just cause” court, rather than an “at will” court, meaning that court staff will be entitled to due process in employment decisions.
8. In your view should there be any change to the role of corporate funding in our elections?
The influence of large corporations in our elections has been negative. Corporate funding deafens the voice of the electorate. Corporate funding has made our democracy feeble. Corporate funding and funding of campaigns through independent expenditure groups warp and distort public discourse.
9. What are some policies you would implement to make our election system more democratic?
I believe the key to making our election system more democratic is to make it easier to vote and easier to register to vote. The fastest way to make elections more democratic would be by allowing same-day registration, automatic voter registration through, online voter registration, and vastly expanded mail-in voting.
10. What’s your solution for gerrymandering?
Strictly enforcing the letter and the spirit of the Civil Rights Act must be the starting point for any discussion of solving gerrymandering. Drawing new districts, whether they are congressional or state legislative districts, is an intense political power game that has far-reaching disadvantages for targeted groups. There are four steps to address gerrymandering adequately.
1. Thorough, consistent, engaging, and repeated civics education in public schools, starting in kindergarten and continuing through secondary school. People can’t be blamed for accepting gerrymandered districts if they’re not expected to know what their various districts are.
2. Implementing an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commissions in the same manner that the State of California and the City of Austin successfully.
· The members of the ICRC would be barred from seeking public office for ten years and would be appointed through an open application process followed by a lottery.
· Qualifications to apply to the ICRC would be as wide as possible, ‘if you can fill out a voter registration card, you can apply to the ICRC.’
o Direct relatives of registered lobbyists, elected officials, or department heads of governmental entities would be barred from the application process as well.
3. Standardized/organic criteria for political subdivisions. - Communities, cities, etc., typically don’t look like spider webs. Population is also a deceiving metric for geographic districts - voter density could or should be included.
· Defining what a standardized electoral district should like is beyond the scope of this questionnaire but here are a few examples what could be written out of existence:
o Spider webs,
o Districts that are only connected by a highway,
o Enclaves or exclaves
4. Challenging the maps in court. - Simply put, a political problem deserves a political solution. However, the Supreme Court has narrowly approved a role of the judiciary in addressing such intractable problems like this that cannot be addressed by the political system. One such case is pending in front of the Supreme Court right now and was argued in early October (Gill v. Whitford). It is my hope that this problem will be addressed politically—more recently, the harm gerrymandering has done has been acknowledged by both Democrats and Republicans.
11. How are you funding your campaign?
Donations from the community are funding my campaign. I am not seeking, nor will I accept corporate donations.
12. Have you advocated for the rights of undocumented immigrants? If so, please explain.
I have advocated for the fair and compassionate policies regarding undocumented immigrants, and supported progressive candidates that have pledged to do the same. I have a standing offer to draft a Chapter 34 Authorization free of charge for anyone with children who is at risk for deportation. While volunteering for Legal Services of Central Texas, I am assigned to cases in my range of expertise, family law, and business disputes. All people should have access to legal services and the courts, and all people should feel safe in the courthouse, regardless of immigration status.
13. Are there ways the justice system disadvantages or discriminates against women? If so, what changes would you advocate for?
If elected, every individual party in front of my bench will be treated fairly. As a family law attorney who has handled divorces, child custody and adoption cases for more than a decade, I am aware of disadvantages based on gender. In both litigation and my mediation experience, I have learned to be creative with solutions that will even the playing field where there are inequities. The Texas Family Code prohibits judges discriminating based on gender, and authorizes judges to make orders that even the playing field during a divorce when it comes to access to legal representation. I am committed to these principles and have made use of these provisions of the Family Code in representing clients throughout the years.
14. If there were one thing you could accomplish immediately, what would it be?
Travis County should focus on having trauma-informed courts. I would like to accomplish immediately upon taking the bench is to ensure the courtroom and witness rooms accommodate children and provide a safe environment for all individuals that have been traumatized on the journey that has led them to be in the courthouse. The only way to make sure that every party to a case is heard is to make sure that everyone has a voice. People who find themselves in a civil court should have the process explained to them in a clear manner. Too many people find themselves in civil court without understanding what is happening. If elected to the 459th District Court, I would make sure that people understood what was happening and how to respond. This way choice wouldn’t be made for them, or unfairly.
15. What is your campaign strategy for winning in November?
The first step to winning in November is remembering that the election doesn’t end in March. Consistent community engagement, voter registration, and most importantly of all community input are the best path to victory. All too often, elections frequently stop after the primary. Hyper-specific targeting during primaries has led to a curious imbalance between government and the general public. The best way to grow the electorate is to engage people.