Continuing his run for governor of Texas, former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke visited Fort Bend County on Dec. 6 to speak to voters about his vision for a better Texas.
About 600 people waved Beto for Texas signs and wore Beto for Texas t-shirts surrounding the congressman on a small square stage at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds.
The rainy midday weather didn’t slow down Beto supporters from showing up for the candidate as he spoke about issues like legalizing marijuana, Texas’ six-week abortion ban, the electricity grid, voting rights, gun laws, increasing funding for public schools, and fully expanding Medicaid.
“Imagine taking those tens of billions of dollars that are on the table right now [and] hiring more providers in this community and throughout rural Texas, where hospitals and clinics are closing by the dozens,” O’Rourke said. “Imagine more Texans well enough and healthy enough to fulfill their potential and live up to their promise in their lives. We can do it, we only need to take yes for an answer.”
Afterward, the Signal spoke to O’Rourke who said he has plans for reforming criminal justice and drug policies in the state.
“This country puts more people away than any other on the planet, and this state within this country puts more away than any other state in the country,” O Rourke said. “So we must legalize marijuana in Texas, we must expunge the records for those who have been convicted of possession and then we must ban the box, checking a box to say that you have a low level drug offense so that you can actually get a job … qualify for a student loan so that you can better yourself and the lives of those around you.”
Additionally, O’Rourke highlighted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s “pro-life” stance and said reversing the anti-choice six week abortion ban will be one of his first priorities as governor.
“Greg Abbott will tell you this is about pro-life, but if he were pro-life we would see different outcomes in the state of Texas,” O’Rourke said. “You look at child protective services where the kids are sleeping in the hallways or on the desk or dying in our custody and care. This is not about being pro-life for the governor this is about controlling women in Texas and the decisions that they make and its incredibly deadly for the people of this state.”
On another note, attendees at the rally said they remember O’Rourke visiting the county during his run for Senate in 2018 and were excited to see him again.
The Signal also spoke to longtime Fort Bend County residents, retired educator Sheryl Hill and her husband, former veteran Don Hill, who said they support O’Rourke because they want Texas to live up to its greatness.
“We want Texas to be a kinder and gentler state,” Hill said. “We don’t want all this meanness, this hate, we want this to be a great state and see policies that are people friendly.”
Additionally, Hill said she specifically supports O’Rourke’s policy on legalizing marijuana.
“My husband is a 100 percent disabled vet and he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, so I don’t know if he wanted to have in lieu of all the medicine they’re giving him to be able to have access to medical marijuana then fine,” Hill said. “Locking up all our kids for so many years behind something that is an illness, but they treat it as a crime.”
Moreover, more attendees noted how their county, one of the most diverse in the nation, is the future of America and said Beto recognizes that.
“When he comes to Fort Bend County he’s coming to the future of Texas,” Fort Bend County resident Linda Webb said. “We are a very diverse county, but we are also a very successful county and this is what the future of the United States is so why not come here where the future is.”
Furthermore, Fort Bend resident Pat Lkplrcynaluk said O’Rourke’s views on equality is what solidifies her support for him in the upcoming 2022 election.
“As a senior woman with daughters and granddaughters he represents the very best answer towards bringing not only equality for women, but also for others,” she said. “He’s the real deal.”
State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston), who also made an appearance at O’Rourke’s Nov. 19 Houston rally, said he will try his best to participate in as many Beto rallies as he can to show his support for the gubernatorial candidate.
“I think he is our absolute best shot at taking on Greg Abbott,” Wu said. “This is going to be the bellwether election to find out whether Democrats can push forward or not. I think people finally see the Republicans for what they really are and even Republicans are tired of their Republican leaders.”
Next for O’Rourke on the campaign trail is a rally in Galveston on Wednesday and a rally in Beaumont on Thursday. Election day for the governor’s race will be Nov. 8, 2022.
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.