In anticipation of the upcoming 2018 mid-term elections, Free Press Houston will be regularly interviewing the various candidates seeking office in and around Houston. This week, we have Laura Moser, a Democrat running for Texas District 7.
This story has been edited for length and clarity.
Free Press Houston: Texas 7 is basically the big peach in this tree. Everyone is saying it’s the one that’s going to flip. You moved back here specifically to take it over. What was that like, upending your life to try and come back here and make a difference?
Laura Moser: We’d always talked about moving back to Houston when my oldest son finished elementary school, so it was always on the radar, but after the last election I really, truly felt I had to do everything I could to fight back.
FPH: The big thing I find when talking about District 7 is mass transportation. I get a lot of letters from both conservatives and liberals who are disappointed that we can’t get a rail out that way. So I would like you to tell me, in as minute detail as you like, what your plans are for mass transportation.
LM: The money that [John] Culberson repeatedly turned away for this district over many years and sent to other cities, federal money that we were given and he rejected, is no longer there. It’s not waiting in some federal kitty for us to claim. We no longer have that opportunity. I am very pro-rail. There are a lot of arguments to be made, and that seems wacky to me. I think having rapid bus lanes, which is actually happening now, but needs to be massively expanded. They need to go into unincorporated areas of Harris County as well because, as we learned after Harvey, there are a lot of people who don’t have a way to get to work.
Do you know how many cars were lost in Harvey? Something like between 600,000 and a million. Houston is the largest city without a mass transportation system (Author’s Note: we have a mass transit system, though prior to the establishment of the METROrail we were the largest American city without a rail system). I think a lot of people are realizing that constantly-expanding our freeways isn’t making our lives better. Your answer for everything can’t be twenty-lane highways. I think it starts with rapid bus lanes.
FPH: You’re a fierce advocate of Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose. Do you think that will be a problem in District 7?
LM: I do not. No. The predominant number of people in this district support a woman’s right to choose. Even a lot of people on the conservative end because they know the government has no place in making these decisions. Sarah Davis is my state rep, and there’s a reason this district is represented by the only pro-choice Republican in the state house. I think it would be very hard to be elected as an anti-choice person.
FPH: Now, I got that from the video on your website (Look it Up), and it’s a very good video. However, if someone asked me what Hillary Clinton’s fatal flaw was in the last election, I would say it seems she expected people to seek out information, read it and internalize it. I think it’s inarguable that the world we’re in now is a world where that largely did not happen. Is asking people to go look things up necessarily the best way to accomplish your goals?
LM: I actually disagree with you about Hillary’s flaws. I think her biggest problem was trying to be everything and toe the middle when people were looking for an outsider. I think there were organizational problems regarding states she thought were in the bag like Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan.
I am basing my campaign strategy on maximum communication with the voters. Maybe I should change the tagline, but I’m doing a lot by writing my own emails, writing my own threads on Twitter. I’m reaching an unbelievable number of voters in this district and all over the country by saying, “this is what I think. I will tell how I will vote on things. You will know why.”
I’m running with some people in the primary who are all very nice, but they’re running on maximum opacity. They think if people know where they stand they won’t get the Republican vote.
FPH: Here’s a quote directly from your website. You say you want to foster “small and family-run businesses by easing burdensome regulations.” I’m one of those. What regulations specifically do you mean?
LM: I think one of the things I’m thinking of is the necessity of buying healthcare when it’s so expensive and there’s not a public option. I think there’s this assumption in Texas that all regulation is bad, and I think that’s not the case. I’m not a knee-jerk sort of liberal who wants to get in everyone’s business. We just need to make opportunity safe. What do you think as a Texan?
FPH: As a Texan? I’m not sure I can answer you, but as someone that writes off a significant amount of his living expenses on his taxes I’m very worried about the new tax bill. A lot of that seems like it might be going away.
LM: Some of it is absolutely going away. My website was written before the tax bill, but I think our tax laws are largely written by people planning to weasel out of them. If you see the latest it doesn’t benefit any… it makes things like writing off health insurance harder. It makes insurance more expensive. I offer insurance to everyone on my campaign, and it’s really hard to get affordable health insurance. It’s really hard if you employ five people. There should be a cheap, affordable government program if you’re a small business. Everything is set up for these multi-national corporations. There are so many small businesses in Houston, and it’s just harder and harder.
Here the candidate and the author have a brief discussion on what it’s like being a writer and getting paid on a 1099 form come April 15, but it’s not terribly interesting to people who aren’t in that boat. The takeaway is…
LM: I think the government should be making it easier for independent contractors.
FPH: We’ve had $2 gas for, I guess, five years now. Oil and gas is not doing well. What do we do with the people in that industry?
LM: This is an existential question for Houston. Oil is actually over $60 a barrel for the first time in years (Author’s note: she’s right!). However it goes up and down, the fossil fuel industry is changing. Period. China is mandating electric cars now, which means we’re all going to have electric cars.
The question for Houston is, “are we going to be at the head of the 21st century the way we were?” This is an unlikely city that became a great city when we became the epicenter of the energy industry. What happens when it changes? Are we going to become Detroit? Or are we going to start innovating?
The green energy revolution is happening whether we want it to or not. Do we get onboard and start offering research and development grants to companies here? It’s a difficult time. The world is chaging and we need to change with it. Innovate or die.
FPH: One of the things I really loved from your website is footage of your husband, who is apparently doing the primary caregiving as you seek office at this moment. How important is it to have a partner like that as you undertake something like this?
LM: If you have children, it’s everything. I could not do this without the constant support of my husband, and unfortunately I don’t know a lot of men who would do what he’s doing. I know so many men who are partners at law firms and they have four kids and behind the scenes their wife makes their life run. It’s very different for a woman. I couldn’t have done this without my husband.
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