Job descriptionThere are 31 senators in the Texas Senate, the upper chamber of the Texas state legislature. Term is four years.
Duties
  • Writes and votes on state laws.

  • Proposes state constitutional amendments that are voted on by statewide ballot.

  • Votes to uphold or overturn a Governor’s veto.

  • The Senate can hold impeachment trials against statewide office holders.

Annual salary$7,200/yr; $190/day when legislature in session

Who’s Running?

Shadi Zitoon
Website: https://www.shadizitoon.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShadiforTexasSenate/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShadiZitoon
Instagram: @shadizitoon
Email: shadi@shadizitoon.com
Democrat
Jane Nelson (incumbent)
Website: https://www.janenelson.org
Email: info@janenelson.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SenatorJaneNelson/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/senjanenelson
Republican

Candidate Q&A

1. WHY ARE YOU THE BEST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE?
Shadi Zitoon
It is time for modern leadership that understands the world we live in.
We need intelligent, compassionate leadership to ensure we leave the best Texas possible to our children.
We need leadership that is not bought and paid for by big-money donors. In my opponent's 27-year tenure, we have seen schools defunded, social services defunded, and she has even authored a bill that stopped millions of Texans from receiving access to health insurance. She has forgotten who she works for.
I will not take money from special interests or from corporate donors.
I will work for you.
Jane Nelson
2. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FEW PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?
Shadi Zitoon
Healthcare: We need to take federal money and expand Medicaid. Our state has lost more than $20,000,000,000 of federal funding and left more than 1,000,000 Texans without health insurance.
Education: We need to ensure our education system is set up to succeed. Part of this is making sure that they have the funds to do the job we ask them to do.
Climate change: We need to work to protect our state’s and our nation’s environment. Part of that comes with transitioning to the future and moving away from fossil fuels as one of our primary industries. We also need an environmental watchdog with teeth.
Criminal Justice Reform: We need to reform our criminal justice industry into a system that is focused on rehabilitation and not needlessly incarcerating people for low-level offenses or the ‘crime of being poor.’
Cannabis legalization: We are losing out on a multibillion-dollar industry from which the tax dollars can help fund many programs to make our state better. We have already seen many blueprints from the other states that have already begun reaping the benefits, we should use the best of their models and create a system that has opportunity for all Texans.
Jane Nelson
3. WHAT SHOULD THE LEGISLATURE PRIORITIZE TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE IN TEXAS?
Shadi Zitoon
Medically, we lead the US in all the wrong categories. It is baffling to me that we have not expanded Medicaid in this state yet. We have lost more than $20,000,000,000 of federal dollars that could have been providing insurance for over a million Texans due to this lack of action. Not to mention, the health and lives that have been lost due to the lack of medical care it would have provided.
Expanding Medicaid and allowing small businesses to enroll their employees in the program would take the expense from them and allow them to have greater economic flexibility. It shouldn’t just be the big box stores and massive corporations that get to underpay employees and lean on the state to pad their bottom line. Why shouldn’t we use the tools available to us as one of the highest GDP producing states in the nation to help entrepreneurs through this time?
Jane Nelson
4. GIVEN THE ECONOMIC ISSUES IN SCHOOLS RESULTING FROM THE CURRENT PANDEMIC, STATE AND LOCAL REVENUES ARE DOWN, EVEN AS NEEDS ARE HIGH. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS REGARDING FUNDING FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN THE NEW PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT?
Shadi Zitoon
School funding must increase. Our teachers are underpaid and overworked, and far too many schools are overcrowded. Adding the new issues that have been caused by COVID, we are not positioning our teachers or our students to succeed. Several of the issues plaguing our schools can be addressed by providing proper funding.
Teachers deserve pay that reflects their status as professionals and is competitive with other job markets as many teachers leave the classroom for higher-paying jobs. The best teachers are leaving the classroom because the current public K-12 funding can’t compete with cost-of-living increases while teacher salaries remain the same. Students are the main benefactors of smaller student/teacher ratios, quality, affordable, and accessible Pre-K programs, good infrastructure, exemplary mentoring, and health programs. None of these factors can be adequately addressed by current funding, let alone a decrease in funding.
Several states have reaped the benefits of legalizing and taxing cannabis. This would free up money, that is spent on the failed war on drugs, to be used on more constructive programs. We also need legislation to ensure corporations are paying their fair share and not pushing all the burden onto the individual tax-payers.
Jane Nelson
5. IN RECENT YEARS THERE HAVE BEEN MANY PUBLIC DEBATES ABOUT STATE AUTHORITY VERSUS LOCAL AUTHORITY ON A NUMBER OF ISSUES. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS A GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN THE TWO?
Shadi Zitoon
As Texans, we are generally in favor of local control, and I believe that communities should be able to govern what happens inside their boundaries. On occasion, we have seen the majority party in the state legislature betray that principle by imposing its own will on local decision making, even when it does not involve issues of community health and safety.
Just recently we have seen my opponent and the governor come out again against local control. Austin made the decision to redirect some of the funds and responsibilities from their police to other agencies to better meet the needs of their citizens. It shows that for them, it really means, ‘local control as long as it agrees with me or my donors.’
This partisan overreach is something I oppose.
Jane Nelson
6. HOW SHOULD THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE ADDRESS ISSUES SURROUNDING TEXAS'S ENERGY FUTURE (SUCH AS CHANGING ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE ENERGY INDUSTRY, CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES, ETC.?
Shadi Zitoon
We have to encourage our energy industry to move into the future. The writing is on the wall. If we don’t transition away from oil and gas we will end up like those who relied on coal.
Currently, we are the nation’s largest polluter, we emit nearly twice as much CO2 as the country’s second-highest polluter, California, even though they have 40% more population. We are already one of the nation’s leaders in green energy. We provide a quarter of the nation’s wind energy (5th worldwide). We should be pushing to become a worldwide leader in renewable energy. One of the greatest benefits of this is it goes hand in hand with protecting Texas’ majestic beauty and ensuring our children can enjoy Texas’ great outdoors.
Jane Nelson
7. ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
Shadi Zitoon
We are in this together.
I want policies that address everyone's issues. That includes all Texans, not just the rich ones.
I want to be a representative that does what's best for Texans.
We do better and our communities are stronger when our neighbors are doing well
Jane Nelson