SAN ANTONIO – Two candidates on opposing sides of the most competitive congressional race in Texas spoke with KSAT about their stances on some of the most important issues of today.
Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones and Republican Tony Gonzales shared more about their platforms ahead of their debate on Thursday evening at Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde. The hour-long debate will be broadcast live on KSAT, KSAT.com and all of KSAT’s free streaming platforms.
Jones and Gonzales talked about why they’re running and a number of important issues, including health care, the border and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what they had to say:
On health care:
Health care and the future of the Affordable Care Act is one of the most urgent issues that voters are concerned about.
Jones has made health care a primary cornerstone of her campaign, and she called her district “one of the most medically-underserved districts in the country." Jones wants to make health care more accessible by creating a public option.
“It was the number one issue before this pandemic,” Jones said. “And (the pandemic) has only highlighted the need for quality, affordable health care.”
Jones has taken shots at Gonzales on his support for dismantling the ACA. Gonzales thinks the law “is broken," he said, but he said he would not take away protections for people with preexisting conditions.
“I will always defend and protect those with preexisting conditions,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said health care is a personal battle for him after he was hospitalized for 23 days after a routine surgery resulted in kidney failure and damaged his vocal cords. However, his website does not include a specific plan on health care.
On the border:
Gonzales, who is endorsed by President Donald Trump, is a proponent of building more of the border wall, he said in his interview, but that “it’s not enough” to secure the border.
“It’s multifaceted,” Gonzales said. “You have to add resources, you’ve got to give people that are doing the work the tools that they need, and you’ve got to add technology.”
Gonzales said he supports legal immigration, but that the current system is broken and needs to be addressed.
Jones says she does not support a border wall which she called a “wasteful” use of federal dollars.
“It’s not just wall or no wall. It is literally how else should we spend $15 billion?” Jones said. “I think it is absolutely possible to secure our border without a border wall and to treat people with humanity and respect."
Like Gonzales, Jones thinks there’s an opportunity to help reform the current immigration system.
On economic recovery:
Both candidates agree that getting the economy going is one of the most urgent priorities they’ll face when they take office.
Jones said she would work on finding safe ways to restart the economy, supporting small businesses and making sure the district has the resources it needs to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Gonzales is pushing to reopen ports of entry for border communities to allow for more economic activity in the district.
“I believe we can do it safely,” Gonzales said.
On why they ran:
Gonzales said he became more interested in Congress since he worked for Marco Rubio.
“What I really saw was, you know, these men and women up on Capitol Hill had lost their way,” Gonzales said. “And it wasn’t just one party. It was across the board.”
Gonzales said he’s been open to starting dialogues with people he doesn’t agree with in hopes of finding common ground.
Jones, who narrowly lost to outgoing incumbent Will Hurd in 2016, said she felt like her district has not been represented the way it deserves to be.
“I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything I could do to make sure we get this congressional district and our country back on the right track,” Jones said.
Both are veterans who have served their country before, and both are hoping to serve the public once again.
Early voting begins on Oct. 13. Election Day is slated for Nov. 3.