Op-Ed by Joe Herrera – Democratic Candidate for Texas House District 53
In 2002 after graduating from college I was hired as a sales representative with The Hershey Company. My job took me to towns I had never been to before, Rocksprings, Mason, Menard, Junction, El Dorado, Sonora, Kerrville, as well as a few towns I was familiar with such as Divine, Lytle, Natalia, and Hondo. This was a great experience because I was able to visit and speak with grocery store managers, and in the process learned a great deal about these towns.
Two years later when I was looking for my first home, I was so happy that I found a place in one of those small towns. I have been in Natalia since 2004 and I have no intention of leaving anytime soon.
All these South Texas communities have small-town charm, caring neighbors, and picturesque sunsets that make rural Texas like no other place.
However, there are huge differences in these communities.
Some of these South Texas towns have thriving businesses, new home growth and plenty of services for its citizens. While others, especially the more rural towns, have little business growth, in fact some have seen businesses move out or close. Rural Texas towns health care facilities have been affected by loss of funding and they have had to close their maternity wards, and some have had to limit their services.
Some communities, like mine, and many others have a problem getting Broad Band Internet access.
Although I am only 30 mins from San Antonio, one of the largest cities in Texas, I have had problems getting internet access fast enough to support a home office, let alone support any kind of streaming services.
Access to high-speed internet has become important over the past few months, especially with schools moving to a distance learning approach. Increasing access to high-speed internet for our rural communities would help ensure that our students are able to keep up with their homework and stay connected to their friends.
Access to high-speed internet would allow our neighbors in rural communities to visit with their doctors or other healthcare providers using telemedicine services, or other video conferencing methods offered by local hospitals or clinics.
Here are some interesting facts about how limited access to high-speed internet is across the 12 counties in Texas House District 53:
People who do not have access to 25 mega bites per second wired broadband by county.
These are just a few of the communities that are seeing an impact on their daily lives because of the lack of attention and focus by our current representative. This lack of leadership on an issue affecting so many in this house district is causing a homework gap between our students in the district versus larger more urban communities.
This lack of leadership is making it harder for local small businesses to conduct business or launch a website to offer their products and services to a larger group of customers. And this lack of leadership is making it harder for our communities to attract and retain top talent, and it slows business growth due to the higher cost of doing business.
I have been speaking about this issue for some time, but it seems that our current representative does not seem to think it would garner enough attention or is not important enough to introduce legislation that would fix this issue.
Several bills were proposed in the 2019 session, but they did not pass.
It is disappointing that our current representative was not a sponsor on either bill, and it is disappointing that this issue, which impacts so many across the district, has not been corrected before this session.
Our neighbors in Texas house district 53 deserve leadership on this issue, and more. This November, if elected, I will ensure that the first bill I take up is one that will make broadband internet a utility, so that everyone in Texas will have access to this vital form of communication, especially in these troubled times.
This is a time for true local leadership, and we should expect nothing less. We need to Move Texas Forward this November, and it starts with each of you voting and sharing information about all our candidates on the ballot.
I am running to be your representative, to work with Rural Texans to find common ground and long-lasting solutions that will make everyone proud to be a part of Texas House District 53.
Many of you reading this may not know me or be familiar with my district if this is the case, I’d encourage you to visit my website below or send me an email at email@example.com.