Local progressive leaders met virtually on Friday to tout the launch of Our Future Texas, a new nonprofit political action group that will work to elect and support grassroots activists and community leaders.
Lawmakers and officials backing the new organization include Austin City Council Member Greg Casar, Travis County District Attorney José Garza, Houston City Council Member Tarsha Jackson, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee, El Paso City Council Member Alexsandra Annello, Dallas City Council Member Adam Bazaldua, and San Antonio City Council Member Roberto Treviño.
They say the creation of Our Future Texas is a response to the 2021 legislative session, more specifically, the lack of real issues being tackled at the state level, and the legislature’s attack on policies and decisions taken by local governments.
Austin City Council Member Greg Casar said that during the winter snowstorm, local leaders were getting direct financial relief and aid to residents while Gov. Greg Abbot was busy blaming the grid failure on the Green New Deal and Sen. Ted Cruz was fleeing to Cancún.
“And in that moment, it became so clear to me and to so many of us, that if we want a future in Texas where people can be safe and can thrive, that it’s gonna come from the local level,” Casar said.
“Local leaders need an organization that is going to back them up through thick and thin, even if, and especially when, the state fails them,” Casar continued. “Ask yourself, what have our top state officials really spent their time on this legislative session?”
El Paso City Council Member Alexsandra Annello criticized the legislature for passing a permitless carry proposal.
“The state of Texas has chosen to prompt the permitless carry of guns without any licensing whatsoever,” Annello said. “As a community that has lost life to senseless gun violence, we are disappointed and horrified state leaders would promote this legislation.”
Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said the work being done by the county on environmental justice and expanding voter access has been repeatedly undermined by the state.
“We’ve seen the law be changed by the state,” Menefee said. “They’ll go in and pass laws intended specifically to undermine the Harris County Attorney’s Office.”
“For example, allowing the state government to snatch any penalties case we have that we try to file in the wake of a major explosion or emissions event,” he continued. “They’ve passed laws limiting our ability to hire outside lawyers to take on the big cases that are intended to change corporate behavior, called impact litigation.”
Tory Garvito, a board member for Our Future Texas, said local leaders across Texas were coming together and testing out new, bold policies that could serve as a model for lawmakers in Washington D.C.
“These local decisions often have a more direct impact on the ability to improve people’s lives than legislation coming out of the state,” Garvito said.
Council Member Greg Casar said Our Future Texas would back local leaders with funding and messaging, and highlight victories at a local level.
“Our response to this backward legislative session is to double down on fighting for Texans at the local level,” he said.
The work of Our Future Texas will focus on COVID relief, criminal justice reform, environmental protection, affordable housing, immigration reform, racial equity, reproductive rights, and voting rights.
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