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Texas This Week: Meet the candidates running for Texas House District 52

Caroline Harris (R) is a Texas Legislature staffer. Luis Echegaray (D) is a veteran and businessman.

AUSTIN, Texas — Early voting in the November midterm election starts in three weeks. To help Texans make a decision at the ballot box, we're talking with the candidates. 

Texas House District 52

Before the Texas Legislature drew new political maps last year, District 52 was largely made up of south central Williamson County. The district was reliably red until 2018, when Democrat James Talarico turned the district blue in a special election. He narrowly pulled out a victory in 2020, winning by just three points.

The district now encompasses more than half of the county, stretching all the way to the Williamson County line to the north and east. This resulted in Representative Talarico being drawn out of the district, and political observers say the change is intended to flip the seat back.

Credit: Andrew McKibbin, KVUE News
Texas House of Representatives District 52 Candidates, Nov. 2022

Voters will select between two political newcomers, Republican Caroline Harris and Democrat Luis Echegaray.    

Luis Echegaray (D), candidate for Texas House District 52

Ashley Goudeau: First, introduce yourself to our viewers and tell us why you want to serve in the Texas House of Representatives.  

Luis Echegaray: "So my name is Luis Echegaray. I am a businessman. I'm a former educator. I'm a veteran and I'm a father of two girls. And the reason I want to serve without, you know, trying to keep it as short as possible, I had some challenges during 2020 in the pandemic, I got laid off and some obstacles with the Department of Veterans Affairs. And then on top of that, last year, when my kids went back to school, one of my daughters had some mental health challenges that I had to address. And so, those two things prompted me to want to do something about those issues or priorities."

Ashley Goudeau: What do you believe is the most pressing issue for Texans living in District 52 and how will you work to address?  

Luis Echegaray: "What's interesting is the one that I get the most as I go out there and I speak to people, obviously, up until before the the abortion issue came center stage, was fixing the grid and also the rural broadband issue. So from the grid perspective, obviously, you know, what happened was in 2021, in February when we had that that ice storm that came in. We need to increase energy control and energy capacity. For instance, this summer, a lot of Texans were asked to conserve energy and our population is only growing, right? So we need to continue to make investments in green energy. We need to build more transmission lines. And then on the residential and commercial side, our users need to become more efficient about using automation, such as like smart meters. And then on our rural broadband side, which is really huge in District 52 we have a lot of areas out on the eastern side of the district, such as Copeland, Thrall, Thorndale, that really need the investments made. So the money is there now, obviously, you know, because the Biden administration passed the infrastructure bill. So it's important that we implement reliable rural broadband. That means getting, in this area, it means getting AT&T to show what their plan is. And if they don't show what their plan is, then they shouldn't get any of the funds."  

Ashley Goudeau: In the wake of the Rob Elementary School shooting, there have been calls to create new laws related to guns. Do you think there is room for new regulations?  

Luis Echegaray: "100%. I want to start by saying, obviously, I'm a veteran and I'm a firm believer in respecting the Second Amendment. I'm going to start with that. However, most people that I speak to on both sides of the aisle, they believe in sensible firearm legislation. So, for instance, raising the age for fire assault rifles from 18 to 21. Instituting red flag laws, requiring background checks, requiring some kind of training and certification to own a firearm. I'll give you a quick example. My brother, Joe, just this past weekend, wanted to get just for his own education, take some firearm classes that are certified by the State. And he learned so much he didn't know about firearms. And he owns four firearms. So I think in doing that, it would improve people's education and thus reduce the level of violence."

Ashley Goudeau: As you know, Texas has banned nearly all instances of abortion. This move goes beyond what polls show, even Republican voter support. And we're now hearing from some Republican lawmakers that they want to revise the law and allow abortions in cases of rape and incest. Is that something you would support or do you think we need to go even further?  

Luis Echegaray: "Well, obviously, I feel that we need to go even further. I feel that a woman's right over her own body and the decisions pertaining to it should be should remain between her and her medical provider. In addition, I feel that this is a slippery slope that enters into our rights to privacy. So, if we open up that can of worms, that's going to lead to other areas in our private lives that the government has no business partaking in."

Ashley Goudeau: Give our viewers some final thoughts on why they should elect you this November. 

Luis Echegaray: "I feel that people in District 52 are looking for someone who does not have extreme views, who thinks of their everyday problems and is thinking of ways of reaching out to members of the community and people that are experts on subject matter to come up with solutions for them and then putting those solutions to work for all the citizens of District 52."

Click here to learn more about Luis Echegaray

Caroline Harris (R), candidate for Texas House District 52

Ashley Goudeau: First, introduce yourself to our viewers and tell us why you want to serve in the Texas House of Representatives.  

Caroline Harris: "Absolutely. So my name is Caroline Harris. I am a Williamson County native. I've been there since '99. I am 28 years old, which means I will be the youngest Republican female ever elected to this position if I win in November. And I have worked for the past eight years in the Texas Legislature, a few years in the House, a few years in the Senate. And the reason that I would like to serve in the legislature is, I want to make a difference. I found myself complaining a lot about what I saw going on, especially in my own community. And it was such a great place to grow up and live and work that I decided to stop complaining and step up and do something to make sure that it continued to be a great place to grow up, raise your kids, have a family and work."

Ashley Goudeau: What do you believe is the most pressing issue for Texans living in District 52? And how would you address it?  

Caroline Harris: "Absolutely. So one of the top things that I hear at the door is I hear a lot about the border, which, you know, initially surprised me because we are so far from it. But what these parents in most cases are seeing is the impact of the border on crime in our community, but also fentanyl. We've had deaths in our community from fentanyl. And I think until you see that face to face, you don't understand kind of the threat that it is. And we have fentanyl pouring over our border right now. And so I hear a lot about that from parents, concerned citizens. They're just so concerned that we have an entirely open border and that not only crime rates are going up, but these drugs are coming across and they're killing our kids as well."  

Ashley Goudeau: In the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting, there have been calls to create new laws related to guns. Do you think there is room for new regulation?  

Caroline Harris: "You know, I think there's a lot of room for going and looking at these situations and addressing mental health in particular. And then, you know, how can we make sure that our schools are hardened? So for, especially for mental health, you know, I've visited schools, I've talked to teachers. A lot of these kids show that they're having issues before they ever get to this point. We need to make sure that no kid gets to this point. That any – the first warning sign even before that, that every kid is in a position where they're learning, they're growing, they're nurtured, and they have the help that they need, especially in schools. And so I am very much going to work on making sure that we are protecting the mental health of these kids and that we stop it before it even starts."  

Ashley Goudeau: I want to talk to you about some specific proposals that particularly families in  Uvalde, the Uvalde City Council, the school board there are calling for things that they want to see happen. You can give me a simple yes or no. Do you support raising the age to buy assault style rifles from 18 to 21?  

Caroline Harris: "That is something that I will consider when I get to the legislature."  

Ashley Goudeau: So could you tell viewers right now, though, where you where you stand?  

Caroline Harris: "That's something I'll consider when I get to the legislature."  

Ashley Goudeau: Do you support universal background checks, including requiring checks at gun shows?  

Caroline Harris: "That's also something I'll consider when I get to the legislature."

Ashley Goudeau: Do you support some form of red flag laws?  

Caroline Harris: "That's another thing that I'll consider when I get to the legislature. But, you know, I really want to go back to how do we stop this, how do we keep this from happening all the way down the line? You know, all of those measures, they are a reaction. They are something that we can do. But how do we go to the heart of the problem? That's what I want to do."

Ashley Goudeau: Should women who are the victims of rape and incest be allowed to get abortions in Texas?

Caroline Harris: "Right now in Texas we have the heartbeat bill in place. And because of Roe v. Wade, we also have no abortions allowed in Texas, even in cases of rape and incest. Those are such difficult situations and I'm going to do all that I can to work to protect those women. Come alongside those women, make sure that they know that we in the Texas Legislature care about them. We want to help them. We want to understand their situation. And we're going to do that. We are going to continue to fund that alternatives to abortion program. We're going to continue to work on CPS reform, adoption reform, whatever it takes to make sure that Texas women and their babies are protected and loved in the State of Texas."

Ashley Goudeau: Give our viewers some final thoughts about why they should elect you this November.

Caroline Harris: "I grew up in the area. I love Williamson County. I want to make sure that it continues to be a fantastic place to grow up, raise your kids and work. And I want to make sure that we continue to keep it a safe community, that we continue to support the education here that is so excellent. And I also just want to say that I really appreciate this community and their heart for giving. This community is one of the most philanthropic giving communities. And I want to join that effort. I want to serve the people here well as they serve our community well."

Click here to learn more about Caroline Harris

Credit: KVUE News
November 2022 Midterm Election Voting Deadlines

The last day to register to vote is October 11. Early voting starts October 24 and runs through November 4. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

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