Candace Aylor and Vikki Goodwin. photo: Ann Fowler
by Ann Fowler
OAK HILL – More than a year before the election, four Democratic candidates for House District 47 participated in a candidate forum hosted by Our Revolution Central Texas, a group inspired by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, with a stated goal of changing “American politics to make our political and economic systems once again responsive to the needs of working families.”
Republican Paul Workman has represented House District 47, covering western and southern portions of Travis County, since January 2011.
Several dozen people attended the Sept. 12 forum at the Hampton Branch of the Austin Public Library, featuring candidates Candace Aylor, Elaina Fowler, Vikki Goodwin and Sheri Soltes.
Ana Jordan and Michael Garemko asked questions of the panel. Jordan ran against Workman in 2016, receiving 42 percent of the vote to Workman’s 54 percent.
Aylor, a fourth-generation Texan, has been a nurse for more than 15 years. One of her priorities is affordable health care. She has served on the Behavioral Health Advisory Committee to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
She said watching the District 47 representative looking at his smart phone, boots propped on his desk, while citizens testified in earnest, made her want to run for that office.
Aylor wants to work toward meaningful reform so that marginalized groups are better protected by law enforcement. She would also like to see better funding for schools.
“I operate with incredible integrity,” she said, adding she knows how to stand her ground. Aylor said in attending hearings at the state Capitol, she does not feel it is set up to hear from the people of Texas.
If Aylor could pass one bill immediately, it would be health care for all.
For more information, go to voteCandaceAylor.com.
Elaina Fowler serves as executive director of AFSCME Texas Retiree Chapter 12 and served as chief of staff for State Representative Helen Giddings for nearly two years.
Fowler says her stint in the state legislature has given her a valuable advantage of forging professional relationships with staff offices and agencies.
She told the Gazette, “The possibility to arrive at the Capitol as a freshman legislator with institutional knowledge to hit the ground running from the beginning definitely reduces the learning curve. This is a major advantage that most candidates and new legislators do not possess.”
Fowler said, “For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for public service and for doing the right thing in the most effective and responsible way. This has carried over into my interests of fostering positive and collaborative communication between environmental groups and developers and working within my community to serve others through the boards and organizations to which I belong.”
Fowler says she wants to make a difference. “I want to protect and preserve the integrity of District 47,” she said. “We have wonderful and beautiful communities. I believe that it’s essential that we elect an individual who can build consensus, promote unity, and foster open communication among all community stakeholders.”
She is concerned that recent legislation is harmful to the District. She said, “Our current representative and certain members of our legislature have made their viewpoint very clear with recent proposed legislative changes that weaken environmental protections, demonstrate our state’s diminishing commitment to ecologically sustainable development principles and will lead to further imbalance between development and environmental imperatives.”
Fowler also wants to work with school districts and teachers to improve classroom instruction. She said, “We should always have a bias toward spending that has the largest direct impact on classroom learning.”
If she could pass one piece of legislature, Fowler said it would be to help retirees, who are going through “dire straights” right now.
Fowler is working on a web page. Her Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/FowlerforHD47/.
Vikki Goodwin has lived in southwest Austin for 24 years and owns Goodwin & Goodwin Real Estate.
She said the hundreds of millions of dollars the state takes from Austin Independent School District (AISD) spurred her to run for office. She told the Gazette, “After years and years of hearing AISD representatives talk about the huge amounts of money going to the state in the Robin Hood school funding plan, I decided the only way we are going to change the funding system is to elect new people to the Legislature who make that a priority.”
Goodwin said the Legislature inadequately funded Child Protective Services (CPS), creating dire consequences for children who should be protected by that agency. “We need people in the Legislature who are committed to adequately funding the services we need—public education, CPS and Medicaid, for starters,” she said.
Goodwin has served on many boards and committees: the Family Selection Committee at Austin Habitat for Humanity, the AISD Strategic Plan, a grant review committee with Impact Austin, HOA Boards, the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods Board, and various committees within the Austin Board of Realtors. She said, “I care deeply about my community, and feel that serving in the Legislature is the next logical step for me to serve my community in a greater capacity.”
She added that her experience on these committees have given her insight into the concerns of people in District 47, particularly school funding and traffic. Goodwin said, “I’m aware of the issues involved with traffic, and the lack of transit ideas that are outside the box that could make a difference in our district. Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the city of Austin are working together on ways to improve transit in Austin, and I think that’s a great start. Given the legislature’s recent actions on trying to take away a city’s ability to pass ordinances or do things that might be outside the norm, I would support cities that work toward solutions that make sense in their areas.”
If she could pass one piece of legislature, Goodwin would repair public school finance.
For more information, see www.VoteVikki.com. Her Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Vikki4Tx/.
In 1988, Soltes founded Service Dogs, Inc., a nonprofit that trains dogs to assist people who have hearing or mobility impairments. Prior to her work with Service Dogs, Soltes was a civil trial attorney, as well as a briefing attorney for the First Court of Appeals in Harris County.
“As I have watched the actions of the legislature and our state leaders in recent years, I have seen the powerful ignore or take advantage of entire groups of people in our state,” Soltes told the Gazette. “… they are all under attack by a narrowly-focused group that is not representative of our great Texas. I’m smart, I’m honest, I’m fearless—I could not live with myself if I just stood by.”
Added Soltes, “I have fought to improve the lives of Texans living with disabilities for the last 30 years through my organization Service Dogs, Inc. We rescue dogs from animal shelters and train them to help deaf or mobility challenged Texans and we do it free of charge. I’ve helped abused children in the courthouse get comfort and find their voice with our Courthouse Dogs program. I’ve worked with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to create the nation’s first and only juvenile prison Service Dog training program, now in its third year.”
Service Dogs, Inc. has 15 employees, and Soltes said she continued to pay full wages to an employee who suffered a stroke. “You can judge me by the way I treat my employees, she said. “I do the right thing.”
She also said that donors to her nonprofit sometimes want special treatment. She said she does not give special consideration for donors to Service Dogs, nor would she do that for donors to her campaign.
She added, “The best way to judge how someone will act in the future is to look at how they have acted in the past. Whether I am on the Legislative floor introducing a bill or meeting with you in my office, I will be fighting for you, not developers and their friends.”
If she could pass one piece of legislature, Soltes would reverse Senate Bill 4 that outlawed Texas sanctuary cities.
For more information on Soltes, see http://sherifortexas.com/ or her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SheriForTexas/
About Our Revolution Central Texas
According to Claudia Corum of Our Revolution Central Texas, the organization supports:
A $15/hour minimum living wage
Medicare for everyone
Removing big money from politics
Addressing climate change and environmental issues
Workers rights on the job
Stopping “hateful” state legislation such as SB4 and SB6 (the “bathroom bill”)
Expanding Medicaid and Social Security