Rep. O’Rourke draws large crowd in Sherman
By Richard A. Todd
-Photo by Richard A. Todd
GRAYSON COUNTY DEMOCRATS HOST TOWN HALL MEETING– U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) was invited to speak in a town hall meeting at the Grayson County Courthouse in Sherman on Sunday, Aug. 13. 2017. Organizers included, in no particular order: Lander Bethel, Dan Pucul, Genna Mitchell Bethel, Roger Sanders, Andra Petrean, Mark Ewig, Beto O’Rourke (center back blue shirt), Barb Rush, Glenn Melancon, Christina Johnstone, Glen Johnstone, Rajendra Wagle, Terry Templeton, Dinesh Wagle and Marion Morgan. O’Rourke is running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
A Town Hall meeting that took place on Sunday, Aug. 13 at the Grayson County Court house drew a crowd of over 300 people. The focus of the town hall, U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, (D-El Paso), speaking to potential voters in Grayson County. O’Rourke brought out the big guns and used strong words to take on his political opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz, (R- Houston), currently sitting Senator from
Texas. In a heated story about immigrants from South America that flooded into Texas during the previous administration O’Rourke fired up his base by directing harsh words towards the current administration. “Who would have thought that in 2017 we’d be having to hold marches for civil rights?” he asked to a fired-up crowd.
-Photo by Richard A. Todd
FULL HOUSE– Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) spoke to a crowd of over 300 attentive listeners at a town hall meeting on Aug. 13, 2017 at the Grayson County Courthouse. Rep. O’Rourke is running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) for a seat in the U.S. Senate in next year’s mid-term election
“We can’t wait until 2020. We need to start to unravel the policies this president has started now.” – Rep. Beto O’Rourke
Gordonville residents Clyde and Barbara Reynolds were in attendance.
“We came to hear what he had to say,” said Barbara. “We heard enough. This man is getting my vote.” she said.
O’Rourke has an uphill battle if he wants to persuade Grayson County voters. In the previous two elections Grayson County voted nearly 75 percent for the Republican candidate. In 2012 when they elected Sen. Cruz, and again in 2016 when they contributed to sending Donald Trump to the White House.
“I’m not looking just to voters who supported the president. I have had people come up to me who said they voted for Trump who are supporting me.” he said.
He took a hard stance on a few key issues. When asked about a woman’s right to choose,
“That’s non-negotiable for me. A woman has a right to make her own decisions about what she does with her body.” he said to cheers.
Other hot button issues were education, healthcare and immigration. He went so far as to say he favored universal healthcare and that it was the next step. On education he wants to do away with and replace the No Child Left Behind Act. When faced with a question he didn’t have a response for, he was quick to suggest he would better serve the voters by doing further research.
At one point he took down the name and information of a young man who asked a question about animal rights the congressman didn’t have a definitive answer for.
“I will have to do more research and get back to you, but I want to make sure I get it right.” he said.
He told stories of children, some Hispanic, others Muslim, who asked him “why doesn’t the president like me” referring to Trump. When asked if police should be allowed to arrest people who attend protests in military garb his response was a firm defense of all Americans’ first amendment rights. He did not condone the use of violence and called the incidents that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend acts of terrorism.
“We need to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem” he repeatedly said during the event. He added, “We need to move forward, not backwards.”
He told stories how people need to live in communities with downtown districts where people come face to face instead of living in gated communities.
“We need to invest in down town projects” he said.
“These [gated communities] separate us versus them. Communities are part of how we became so divisive in the first place.” he said.
He also proclaimed he wants to invest more in alternative energy, suggesting he sees the fight against the oil and natural gas industry as being similar to the whaling industry, a fight he claimed his side won.
He also said he favors term limits going so far as to indicate he would serve his two terms then step aside. It was not clear if he was counting his time in the House of Representatives as a part of that claim. The event was organized by members of the Grayson County Democratic Party. There were people in attendance from Grayson, Fannin, Cooke, Collin and Denton counties, and at least two who indicated they were from Rockwall.
O’Rourke announced his candidacy to unseat Sen. Cruz in March of this year. He will continue his tour of the state until the end of the month when he will return to his home district of El Paso, a city he referenced many times throughout the day.
–Editors note: This story originally ran in the Aug. 18, 2017 issue of the Whitesboro News-Record. It is recreated here for posterity sake.
Richard A. Todd is a journalist, photographer and podcast host. He is currently writing stories freelance for local newspapers in the Magic Valley of Southern Idaho and Elko County, Nevada.