DeFelice is a nonprofit consultant and gun safety advocate. Adopted from Korea, she grew up on a farm in a Mennonite community in Pennsylvania and has lived in San Antonio since 2006.

Hear from the candidate

The rainy day fund increased by a billion dollars since April to $13.6 billion – is it time to spend some of that money, and if so, where?

I believe that the strength of the Economic Stabilization Fund, coupled with the state’s projected budget surplus of $27 billion, create an opportunity for the Texas Legislature to increase the per-student funding for the 5.4 million school-aged Texans who are the future leaders of our state. By doing so, we can increase teacher pay and benefits, and begin to properly address our public school teacher shortage. A portion of surplus and/or ESF funds should be directed to the Teacher Retirement System and the Employees Retirement System of Texas to provide the cost of living adjustment that our retired teachers and state employees are long overdue. We should hold a portion of the ESF for future needs, as intended, in case of disaster or recession.

What would you like to see the Legislature do to make Texas cities better places to live? In what ways could state officials work better with local officials?

I believe that municipal and county government should have the ability to respond to local issues quickly and without impediment. Current preemption laws should be reassessed with input from municipal and county leadership to ensure that there is a balance of power and that local leaders can efficiently address the needs of their communities.

What do you consider the top challenge facing Texas and how would you address it?

The lack of investment or oversight for our state-managed systems — the electric grid, public education, foster care and child protective services, adult protective services, department of criminal justice, etc. We need the Legislature to focus on stabilizing these vital services and stop wasting taxpayer dollars on sessions that focus on culture war policy.

We live in a time of deep polarization. If elected, how do you see your responsibility to represent all your constituents, even those who didn’t vote for you?

If elected, I will continue to do the work that I’ve done for the past six years — finding common ground to help make Texans healthier and safer. Regardless of partisan identity, we are all part of this community and we should all have a state government that works for us.

Texas is losing thousands of teachers to burnout, political division and a perceived inability to do their jobs. How should the state respond to ensure our children get a quality education?

We need to pass legislation that is supported by teachers and gives them the respect that they deserve. We are 38th in the nation for teacher pay and 50th for teacher benefits — compensating teachers fairly and competitively should be a top priority to retain the most qualified and experienced teachers. We need to end the practice of high-stakes testing and respect teachers to teach their subject matter expertise.

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This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.