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Big turnout for local Democrats’ summer celebration

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By Emily Banks Wooten
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Nearly 100 people turned out recently for the Polk County Democratic 2023 Summer Celebration at the Polk County Commerce Center in which the keynote speakers were State Rep. James Talarico and Nancy Thompson, the founder of Mothers Against Greg Abbott.

Other guests included Sherry Matula, the founder and president of Sisters United Alliance, a data-driven women’s voter turnout campaign in Texas; Sharon Berry, the Senate District 3 committee woman; and Laura Jones, candidate for the 8th U.S. Congressional District.

“We have a little work to do and that is to get the message of the Polk County Democratic Party throughout the county,” Willie White, chairman of the Democratic Club of Polk County, said.

“Ann and I are determined to get more people to run for public office in Polk County,” White said, referring to Ann Turney, chairman of the Polk County Democratic Party.

Nancy Thompson, the founder of Mothers Against Greg Abbott, is the mother of a son who had health issues that were compromised by the threat of COVID-19. On Aug. 6, 2021, she took a stand that launched a movement against Abbott and his position on COVID restrictions. After standing outside the state capitol holding a sign for two and a half hours, the movement very quickly grew to 50,000 Facebook members.

“There’s only one thing worse than fighting with allies. It’s fighting without them. We need to work together with our allies. We know the party has some issues – women, LGBTQ, teachers, gun control – but let’s all become allies in this fight for democracy,” Thompson said.

“From precinct level seats to national level seats, these seats eventually turn into a pipeline. We need to come up with action plans and strategies on getting people to the polls. You are the cavalry. I am the cavalry. By working together side by side, we can stay steadfast, fight for Texas and fight for each other,” Thompson said.

Talarico is a former schoolteacher who was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2018. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a master’s degree from Harvard University. He was named one of the top 10 state legislators by Texas Monthly.

“I’m impressed with the turnout. Five years ago, I was elected as the youngest member of the Texas Legislature. I won a district that hadn’t voted for a Democrat since before I was born. I won that seat and flipped Williamson County from red to blue,” he said.

Talarico said he wants to reduce prescription drug costs, improve public education and improve health care.

“People vote with their hearts, with their guts. People are a lot more than their material needs. Greg Abbott says he’s for freedom, family and faith. Freedom, family and faith are not the values of the Republican Party. They’ll string those three words together, but they don’t live by them,” Talarico said.

He spoke of his former students on the west side of San Antonio, calling them survivors, fighters, dreamers.

“Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will forever be free.’ Education is freedom. The Republican Party is anti-freedom and as long as they are in power, we have no freedom,” he said.

Sharing his background of being the son of a single mother who left an abusive relationship, Talarico said, “You cannot be pro-family and rip children from their mothers at the southern border.

“And as for faith, there is no love of God without love of neighbor. Every single person counts. You can’t be pro-faith and persecute our Muslim neighbors or reject a stranger seeking asylum or endorse policies that destroy God’s creation. Democrats stand for freedom, faith and family and the other guys don’t,” he said.

Talarico answered numerous questions, predominantly regarding the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton, vouchers and gun violence.

“In my three terms, the most consequential vote I’ve cast is the vote to impeach Ken Paxton. He was corrupt and abusing the public trust. In the Texas House, ethics still count for something.”

Talarico said he supports parental rights and parental choice. He said he believes in leading by example instead of leading by mandate.

“We have a moral responsibility to speak out against Christian Nationalism,” he said.

Regarding what he calls voucher scams, he said, “On the surface it may look good, but you dig into the details and realize they’re ripping you off.

“This has a deeply racist history,” he added, comparing it to 1957 when white students were allowed to leave integrated school districts. “Vouchers are just another form of taxation without representation. The whole thing is a scam from top to bottom. Their whole goal is to dismantle public education. In the richest country in the world, we’re nickeling and diming our teachers.”

Talarico spoke of his concerns regarding juvenile justice, foster care and the grids. “Representatives are banning books and drag queens but they’re not doing anything about foster care or gun violence,” he said.

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