Candidate Gina Ortiz Jones speaks at the Democratic Candidate Forum for TX-23.
Gina Ortiz Jones Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Early voting runs through Nov. 2, Election Day is Nov. 6 – and the time to make a change is now.

I don’t just say this because I’m running to represent Texas’ 23rd District in Congress, I say it because it is true: This election is the most pivotal of our lifetimes. It is important that our votes are counted and our voices are heard.

Texas is a leader and an innovator. Our state is first in job creation; we educate one in 10 of the nation’s schoolchildren; and we’re home to the best breakfast tacos and strong Texas values.

District 23 is larger in area than 29 other states, and our interests and impact are too important not to be heard. So we must vote and vote early.

It’s not just candidate names or political parties that we’re choosing. It’s not just Gina Ortiz Jones on the ballot – it’s health care, education, jobs, opportunities, and futures on the ballot. When we vote to send someone new to Congress, we make a choice about what we want for our communities, and that choice has lasting impact.

Take our community’s health, for example. Texas is the most uninsured state in the nation, and everywhere I go across our 23rd congressional district, people are concerned about health care. They either can’t afford it, are fearful they won’t be able to afford it tomorrow, or they physically can’t get to it. For example, in Presidio, a far West Texas town near the U.S.-Mexico border, there are only two ambulances, and the nearest hospital is inAlpine. If you’re the third person with an emergency, you’re stuck driving more than 80 miles to get care. In our district, more than 300,000 people have pre-existing conditions like cancer, asthma, or having had a baby. They worry their care will be taken away. And in Congress, we have representation that voted eight times to allow health insurance companies to deny coverage to those with a pre-existing condition. Eight votes to leave people high and dry.  Your vote can change that.

I was raised by a single mom. I know what it’s like when you’re healthcare plan is “I hope you don’t get sick.” We need more than just hope – we need action. When my mom secured insurance through her job as a teacher, I watched that insurance save her life as she battled cancer. Too many Americans don’t have that option. That’s why my top priority is ensuring quality, affordable care for everyone. Your vote will help make that possible.

On education, one in 10 kids goes to school in Texas. We have an outsized impact on the country, and we need to make sure our schools can keep up. Our teachers need resources, our students need programs, and our district needs someone who will vote for – not against – the future of our children. I am committed to making sure our schools attract, develop, and keep the best teachers. We must invest in STEM, in special education, and in ensuring all kids have the opportunity to achieve, no matter what neighborhood they grow up in.

I am a graduate of John Jay High School in West San Antonio, where 900 kids started but only 500 graduated. I know investing in our schools and programs that help our students means believing that every kid deserves the opportunity to grow up healthy, get an education, and serve our country. Your vote is a voice for those kids, but you have to use it.

I am proud of our community, and I feel blessed to have grown up and to live in San Antonio. I will always use my vote to stand up for us. I will vote to ensure we can all afford health care, guarantee our students have what they need, defend Dreamers, protect and expand Social Security, safeguard our military bases, and bring more jobs and more opportunity to our area.

There is no need to ask where I stand: I stand with our community always, and it would be an honor to earn your support. Every day in Congress, I will fight for us and vote for us – but first, it’s your turn to vote. There is too much on the ballot to sit this out.

Gina Ortiz Jones is an Air Force and Iraq War veteran, San Antonio native, and first-generation American running to fight for quality, affordable health care, a level playing field so hardworking Texans...