Interview with Joy Diaz

Joy Diaz is one of five Democrats vying to be at the top of the party’s general election ticket come November. Until then, she must beat out four other liberal-minded candidates who too want to be governor of Texas.

Diaz is a former journalist who said she is “committed to serving all Texans in a better, healthier, safer, and more profitable state,” per her website.

Why are you the best candidate for the job?

I am different from every other candidate. I am not a wealthy candidate, I was not born in privilege and I understand what working class Texans — which is the majority of us — go through. I have a very different background than everybody else. I was a foreign born American. I grew up as a missionary kid in Mexico City, and my parents worked in garbage dumps. I don't know anybody else who has had that life experience.

[My parents] invested in families who lived in garbage dumps by providing education, schools, clinics, and I grew up learning how to serve.

The job [of governor] requires a public servant, and I was taught from an early age what it is to serve. Then I became a public school teacher believing in the value and the power of education. Then I became a reporter and traveled the state learning from people on the ground what their needs are. I am trained to listen and look for solutions, and I am a very hard worker.

What do you believe is the biggest issue impacting Texans today?

There is not one issue. Texas is a multifaceted, multicultural state and there are many things that we need to change, some things that we need to do and some things that we need to undo.

There are several needs that I would like to tackle: one, is that I would like to invest heavily in education. I would like to expand Medicaid. I would also like to talk about the needs at the border, but talk about them and ask the people on the ground what they need. I would like to partner with the federal government when it comes to the border because the border after all is federal, and we need to become partners. I would also like to strategize for the future looking at the needs of the state in preparing for disasters, but also strategize for the jobs of the future, strategize for the education of the future. We need to look into the future and stop looking into the past so much.

Many businesses — and especially small businesses — were impacted by the pandemic. How would you assure Texas business owners of brighter days ahead?

Well, I believe in the wisdom of the business owners. Everybody was so scared during the pandemic and we saw places that shut down and places that didn't shut down. We saw places that wore masks and places that didn't wear masks. The chaos of so many voices speaking at the same time is something that created a lot of confusion and perhaps even a lot of deaths.

I would like to talk to business owners and tell them that there are brighter days ahead because we are going to pull together as one. We need to agree on steps ahead, and then we need to walk together.

Reports have found that the state's electric grid is not prepared for another major freeze. How would you ensure a near-collapse of the grid would not happen again?

Well, one thing that we keep saying during the pandemic is that we need to listen to the science and listen to the experts. And in this case, the current governor is not listening to the science or to the experts. He’s just providing ways for companies to continue getting richer and for Texans to continue to suffer. If this were to happen again today, we would have the same calamity and the same disaster. So there are some tough decisions that need to be made, and we need to listen to the experts. We need to listen to science and we need to listen to people who know what they're doing.

They told us to winterize. Have we winterized? No. They told us that there are some fixes that we need to take care of. Are we taking care of them? No, because it's cheaper for companies to pay a fine than to winterize. What does that tell you? It tells you that the governor is giving companies a way out and that's not what we need.

If you could take a different approach to one statewide issue than Abbott, what would it be and why?

I will take a different approach to most issues, starting with education. A lot of people say, ‘you cannot throw money at education.’ Well have we tried that? Maybe we need to throw money at education. It's the best investment we can make for the next 30, 50 and 100 years. A lot of people talk about education as though it's not fixable. Well, it is unfixable as long as we have a friend of the current governor with no education experience at the helm of the Texas Education Agency.

We need to position our education system in a way that it takes us into the future. What are the jobs of the future? What are the skills that we need for tomorrow? If we don't look at it in that way, then we are not investing in the industry that will give us the highest return.

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