Marching in the Juneteenth Parade with the Travis County Democratic Party, Texas House candidate Chris Frandsen tirelessly worked the candy-eager kids and their parents along the route.
“Education, education, education! It’s not about the candy, it’s about education!” he said over and over with a smile — but an urgent tone in his voice. If you’ve seen Frandsen campaigning for HD 47 at all during this election cycle, you’ve heard him talk about education. It is his mantra and his top priority.
A relative newcomer to politics, Frandsen is a Vietnam veteran and graduate of the United States Military Academy. After active duty, he went to work for defense contractors and came to Austin to work for Tracor. The attacks of 9/11 and the Iraq War prompted him to get involved in the 2008 presidential campaign and he co-chaired Texas Veterans for Obama.
QUESTION: Why did you decide to run for Valinda Bolton’s HD 47 seat, now occupied by Republican Paul Workman?
FRANDSEN: This is the first time in my life I’ve run for office. I was working with VoteSmart.Org in Montana when I got a call from a group called Adios Workman that was trying to find a candidate to take back Valinda’s seat. I was looking to make a contribution, and I realized my credentials are as good as many of these other people. I spent some time thinking about it, decided I could do it and then met with Valinda and her Democratic supporters, mostly in Circle C.
QUESTION: What’s been your messaging to voters in your district, and will those issues be your legislative priorities when you’re elected? By the way, I’m pretty sure I know the answer.
FRANDSEN: My legislative priority is the future — we’re not investing in the future of Texas. ‘Frandsen For The Future’ has been my slogan, and it’s about investing in education, water and energy conservation and transportation. People have their heads in the sand when it comes to planning for the future. Parents of baby boomers really built this country, and they did all that with much higher taxes. Our generation seems to be focused on keeping the money to ourselves, rather than leaving systems behind for our children. I will always ask myself, what does this vote mean for my grandchildren?
Central Texas is the fastest-growing area in Texas, and 60 percent of the children are coming out of poverty. With our present investment in education, these children can’t compete, but we can’t just write them off. The last legislative budget forced AISD to lay off all of its language and computer specialists. Instead of cutting away our resources, we need to restore and increase the funding for education to keep up with the growing population.
QUESTION: Who are your target voters in HD 47?
FRANDSEN: We analyzed the district, and we need 5,500 independents and soft Republicans to win, in addition to Democrats, so we’re targeting 13,000 of those voters. The TCDP’s Coordinated Campaign is responsible for delivering the Democratic vote; mine is to persuade independents and Republicans to vote for me and for (Travis County Commissioner) Karen Huber.
QUESTION: Is your messaging different for independents and Republicans? It’s still all about education, right?
FRANDSEN: We’re also focusing on the fact that property taxes have gone up 78 percent in the past 10 years, while the state has backed away from its responsibilities in education and health care. If we can force Governor Perry to accept the Medicaid dollars, that will fund health care for 1.6 million people in the state. Many of those uninsured people are in Central Texas, and they go to the emergency room for medical care. We pay for that with our property taxes and our own health insurance premiums.
We’re going after parents with kids in school. In my district we have nine school districts, and they tend to be the wealthier schools, like Lake Travis. Parents may not be seeing it yet, but those schools are digging into their rainy-day funds.
And cronyism! We’re talking about getting the Governor to stop spending money on his cronies and start spending money on things the people of Texas really need.
QUESTION: Have you had any debates with your opponent?
FRANDSEN: On October 10th, there’s one big debate sponsored by the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods at the Circle C Community Center.
QUESTION: Why do you think so many Democratic voters don’t believe we can win in Texas?
FRANDSEN: Part of it is we have some people who have gotten cynical. …. We have to be passionate about our issues but also respectful of people and not give into cynicism. We need to keep talking to people about what’s happening in our state. I’m running for the future of Texas, for my constituents. I’m not running against the President or the federal government. It’s fun to talk to Democrats, but that’s not our problem. We need to create a dialogue. If we’re going to take the state back, we have to talk to everybody.