Navy veteran and public housing administrator Jessica Mason, a Democratic candidate in Texas’ 30th Congressional District, says she’s running to bring about change to the South Dallas community she grew up in.
“I was raised by a single mom in an area that was pretty much devastated by a loss of industrial jobs, redlining and an overall lack of economic investment,” Mason told the Signal.
Mason is running a grassroots campaign to occupy the seat of retiring Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. So far, she’s raised $200,000 for the job, an amount that puts her in league or above other high-profile candidates in the crowded and well-funded primary contest.
Mason is a supporter of Medicare for All, ending cash bail, reparations, and a Green New Deal — policies that have earned her the endorsements of leftwing individuals and groups, including former Bernie Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner, DSA North Texas, and Brand New Congress, a political action committee founded by Justice Democrats Executive Director Alexandra Rojas and Saikat Chakrabartim, former chief of staff to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“We’ve had the same representative for over 30 years, and I know that she may be beloved by some people, but I’m the type of person that looks at the material effects of policy,” Mason said. “And I see that it’s just not happening for a lot of us, economically, socially.”
Mason does not believe Democrats will retain control of the House in 2022.
“We did not pass legislation that we ran on,” Mason said. “When Biden ran he made a lot of promises, and you know these aren’t wild, out-of-the-box promises.”
“A lot of people aren’t motivated to come out, because they don’t feel like they have a reason to show up to the polls,” Mason said.
The Build Back Better bill and other promising pieces of legislation were sunk by bought and paid for politicians, Mason said. Biden’s most significant achievement in office so far, a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, is good stuff Mason says, but it won’t immediately impact voters.
“People aren’t going to really see the effects of that for a minute,” Mason said. “A lot of the things that were in that bill help out corporations and business owners, and we don’t really know what effect that’s gonna have for workers.”
On Republicans, who recently censured two House members for investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Mason said Democrats are dealing with an obstructionist Trump-led Republican party that will require them to do better on messaging.
“A lot of the time, we do focus on Trump a lot to the point where I don’t think a lot of people are listening anymore, especially Democrats,” Mason said.
To combat Trumpism, Mason said Democrats needed to focus on working class issues that people care about.
If elected, Mason said she will join the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the left flank of Democrats in the House that has grown since 2016 to marginally overtake the centrist New Democratic Coalition as the largest caucus in the House.
Mason says her vision for her community and Congress is bringing back Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Era which focused on everyday people.
“We have to remove corporate interests from our political system because I feel like that’s really the crux of what’s causing a lot of issues,” Mason said. “I think that’s keeping much-needed legislation from passing. I think that’s what’s keeping us from having voting rights.”
Mason said a lot of issues in South Dallas such as a lack of affordable housing and economic opportunity need to be addressed and focused on in order to prevent voter apathy.
“We have about 400,000 registered voters, less than 25 percent ever show up,” Mason said of Texas’ 30th Congressional District. “It’s because we’re not doing things for people.”
“I think there’s this misconception of Black and Brown voters that they don’t turn out because they don’t care or don’t know anything about politics,” Mason said. “That’s something that needs to be dispelled. They understand politics. The issue is really that they don’t see anything happening for them, so why would that drive them out? Why would they want to be involved in our political process?”
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org