Mary Street Wilson Questionnaire Answers
What actions have you taken to improve your community?
For more than thirty years I have worked as a mathematics professor at Austin Community College and as a pastor at a local congregation. I am particularly proud of our church’s progressive values and social outreach. In the past my congregation has welcomed organizations such as Black Lives Matter to provide seminars on police brutality and institutionalized racism. I have taught classes utilizing my denomination’s White Privilege curriculum for other ministers, and have led trainings for the predominantly white members of my congregation to confront institutional racism and be allies in their communities. Additionally, I have worked to understand the plight of those incarcerated in our dehumanizing, broken criminal justice system by providing counselling to felons at several local jails or detention facilities. I was advocating for marriage equality in 2004 when it was not politically popular and have spent nearly twenty years fighting for a multitude of LGBTQIA+ issues. The recent transgender bathroom legislation has been of principal importance to me and I will continue to advocate against hateful legislation and attacks on our communities. Last, but not least, I have been engaged in interfaith work designed to bring people together. This includes organzing and planning the annual Interfaith Pride Service in Austin for several years, standing as part of the peace keepers for the Muslim Capitol Day, and opening the doors of the building my congregation calls home to those of other faiths who are looking for a safe place to practice their faith.
What is an example or two of legislation you’d like to see passed on Criminal Justice Reform?
With the understanding that mass incarceration is in large part a function of the war on drugs, I would:
● Support legislation decriminalizing the possession of less than a gram of illegal drugs and legalize marijuana.
● Support the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act to reduce the number of Americans in jail due to their inability to post cash bail.
I would also support legislation that bans private prisons and profiteering off of families who want to remain in contact with their family member who is incarcerated.
What is your stance on gun control?
I support closing loopholes in gun background check laws. Additionally, I advocate making it a federal crime to stage a “straw purchase” that puts a gun into the hands of a person legally barred from possessing a gun and I support a nationwide ban on assault weapons. We must also seek to end the sale of weapons with high capacity magazines (10+ rounds).
What policies would you like to see in place nationally to address racial justice? What actions have you taken on racial justice?
Mass incarceration and the war on drugs are racist projects that we must immediately work to end. In Congress, I will work to reduce the mass incarceration and over-policing of communities of color by ending the failed policies of the drug war, fighting the privatization of prisons, and reforming cash bail. Additionally, felon disenfranchisement is regarded by many as the “New Jim Crow.” In Congress, I will fight to restore voting rights to felons and restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act. As a former professor and educator, I would push for free college tuition and the elimination of current college debt. Education is our best avenue to address systemic racism. Therefore, we should make a quality education available to all. Having said that, I am also aware that educated black young men still face obstacles that others do not. So, we will need to continue to address that populations obstacles. The first step in reducing and eliminating systemic racism is to acknowledge it exist and to acknowledge its impact. I would propose the education department engage in such a study.
What policies would you implement to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change? What actions have you taken on Environmental Justice?
I will be a strong advocate for achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2035. This includes a ban on fracking, a carbon fee and dividend system, and an immediate transition to solar and wind energy. In 2016, I travelled to Standing Rock to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline and stand in solidarity with the indigenous water protectors, fighting environmental injustice. It is important for me to point out that I went because I was invited. I am a strong believer in the fact that people have their own voices. I do not need to co-opt them, but instead need to listen to them. Having done that, I am in a better position to share what I have learned. That was my goal in going to Standing Rock, listen, learn, and share in solidarity with the people on the ground protecting their water.
What’s an example of legislation you would support to promote clean renewable energy?
I will support Tulsi Gabbard’s OFF Fossil Fuels Act in Congress. It is the most radical and comprehensive climate bill introduced in Congress to date, and I will be a proud co-sponsor of it.
Will you sponsor HR-676 Medicare For All?
Yes! In Congress, I will continue my commitment to a single-payer, Medicare for All system by co-sponsoring H.R. 676. Our current healthcare system is a financial and medical disaster for millions of Americans and places an absurd, unnecessary burden on small businesses.
What policies would you pursue to address the issue of income & wealth inequality?
Today, the United States has the highest levels of income inequality of any major developed country on earth. Decades of policy favoring the top 1% have created a state of emergency for working class people. We must act immediately to create an economy that is fair for everyone, not rigged for the wealthiest among us.
This includes: raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, supporting the enforcement of antitrust law to break up monopolies, reigning in Wall Street greed through a financial transaction tax and the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall protections, and supporting workers’ right to join a union. I also will support the College for All Act, which will guarantee four years of tuition-free public college to every student in the country.
I also believe that “bonuses” and other pay-outs to executives should be tied to similar compensation to the workers, especially to the lowest paid workers. The details will be a challenge to articulate and to put in legislation, but it sends the message that the entire workforce is deserving of the benefits of their labor.
What ideas do you have for consumer protection and Wall Street regulation?
In additions to the measures I have outlined in the previous question, I will support a financial transaction tax (also referred to as the “Robin Hood Tax”), which would impose a small fee on Wall Street transactions and generate an estimated $300 billion in revenue that can be earmarked to fund Medicare for All, College for All, green infrastructure, and public health programs that would address the opioid epidemic. It is time Wall Street pay their fair share, after wrecking the global economy.
What are some policies you would implement to make our election system more democratic?
We must investigate restrictive voter ID laws, voter roll purges, and cuts to early voting and polling place locations. These attempts at voter suppression disproportionately hurt communities of color, immigrants, the elderly, students, and people with disabilities. I will advocate for full restoration of the Voting Rights Act and work to empower the Department of Justice to protect voters from disenfranchisement. I also support automatic voter registration nationwide when people turn 18. And we need to overturn Citizens United. “Dark” money in politics ruins the democratic process.
How are you funding your campaign?
I am proud to fund my campaign on small dollar donations from regular people. I am firmly committed to refusing all corporate PAC donations.
What should the Federal Government do regarding undocumented immigrants?
The current enforcement of immigration policies in our country traumatizes children and destroys families. We cannot give into the politics of fear by scapegoating the most marginalized while the real issues are being ignored. We must reject Trump’s racist border wall and move to immediately pass a clean DREAM Act. In Congress, I will work to create and implement a humane, safe and fair immigration policy that protects our families, friends and neighbors. I will also investigate ICE’s use of detainer requests and use those investigations to educate the public about the threat these requests pose to constitutionally protected rights. I would also hold hearings to investigate the Trump administration’s use of immigration raids to shape public policy.
If there were one thing you could accomplish immediately, what would it be?
Medicare for All. Every day our government fails to institute Medicare for All, people in this country declare medical bankruptcy or get sick, and often die, from preventable illnesses. This is not freedom; it is an outrage. This is a system that is not broken, but killing us by design. We must take profit out of health care and join the rest of the industrialized world in guaranteeing health care to everyone in our country, as a right, not a privilege. I am a proud supporter of single payer, and regard health care for all as a central tenant to my campaign. And, let me add, one thing is not enough. I’m very passionate about protecting “Dreamers”. This should have be done years ago.
What is your campaign strategy for winning in November?
I believe very strongly in the power of direct voter contact and investing in a robust field program. This not only includes traveling to every corner of this district and talking to as many voters as I personally can, but also inspiring a volunteer base to knock doors, make phone calls, send text messages, and write postcards to as many people in the district as possible. Our campaign is about advocating for progressive policies like Medicare for All, real action on climate change, raising the minimum wage, and ending the student debt crisis. We will win in this district when we inspire young people and first-time and infrequent voters to go to the polls. My progressive platform, coupled with my long track record of social, economic, racial and environmental justice advocacy, will generate a grassroots wave of increased civic engagement and voter turnout in this district.
What spending would you advocate increasing or decreasing while in office?
First and foremost, I would advocate for a massive reduction in military spending, which is disgracefully inflated and hidden from both public and congressional scrutiny. I would support diverting the money spent on financing weapons and military projects, some of which are never even used, to critical public services such as health care, education, and building the green economy. My vision for our country is one that relies heavily on diplomacy and cooperation. I like to ask the question, what would it mean for the peace of the planet if our country was known as the best cooperative partner with other nations as they identify and solve the issues that are important to them? We are known for our power, but I would like to change the very definition of what “power” means.
Are there any issues on which you disagree with Bernie Sanders?
I cannot think of any substantive issues where I am in disagreement with Sen. Sanders.