by Vivian Weinstein
SAN ANTONIO – Linda Chavez-Thompson, the former AFL-CIO leader who is running for the powerful post of Texas Lieutenant Governor, took the time to speak to a small group of campaign activists before they walked door-to-door on October 9. The group was campaigning primarily for progressive U.S. Representative Ciro Rodriguez, but Chavez-Thompson, unlike many candidates, often helps other progressives. While other candidates may not even identify themselves as Democrats, Chavez-Thompson publicly embraces President Obama. Her campaign is short of funds, but her voice is an inspiration.
Linda is devoted to helping all the people of Texas, whose poverty statistics lead the nation. Even those who have jobs are suffering, as Texas has the largest proportion of minimum wage jobs. Education is Linda’s strong issue. She denounces the horrendous statistics of high school dropouts and teen pregnancies in our state. She plans to organize parents and communities to work with her.
Texas’ big “Rainy Day” fund is a big issue in debt-strapped Texas, because the Republican incumbents have refused to use it during the present crisis. Linda Chavez-Thompson urges that it be used to keep Texas teachers in their classrooms.
Linda especially laments the racist poverty for Latinos. She talks of Laredo, a city of 250,000 that is the largest city without a bookstore. Also, in Southwest San Antonio, there are few bookstores. She notes that in middle class areas a child normally owns approximately 13 books, whereas in poorer Hispanic areas children have 1 book per 300 children!
Linda’s personal story inspires her listeners. She is the third child of eight children in a in a migrant farmworker family. She had to leave school in the 9th grade to work and help her family, but her continuing love of knowledge inspires all. She worked up from the cotton fields of Lubbock to become the Executive Vice President of the National AFL-CIO. She is now running for what is arguably the most powerful political position in the nation’s second most populous state!
Linda recently spoke in El Paso, Brownsville and Laredo to enthusiastic supporters. Her vision and ideas on jobs, education, and family participation are welcome not just to progressives but to all hardworking people and Latinos. She understands the connection between raising the conditions of poor communities and all communities. She may not have as many campaign signs as her multi-millionaire opponent, but her voice draws out many listeners who expect to vote for her on November 2nd.