The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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District 17 Congressional Showdown

William+Matta
Photo by PROVIDED
William Matta

Come November, the voice of Aggie students in the U.S. House of Representatives will be voted on. Incumbent William “Bill” Flores and a professor from Waco named William “Bill” Matta are both vying for the votes of the 17th Congressional District. Life and arts reporter Dani Manley sat down with each candidate to determine why they believe they should get your vote.
William Matta
The Democratic candidate is Bill Matta, Ph.D., a professor and Department of English chair at McLennan Community College in Waco. Matta said education is one of his major focuses.
“For years, I have advocated free college tuition at public colleges and universities for students,” Matta said. “That’s been from my perspective as a full-time college employee, as an English professor and department chair for the last 12 years. We need to do something to make college more affordable for people from all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Matta said the most worrisome thing about the education system he has seen is the privatization of schools.
“Education is a major problem,” Matta said. “We’ve seen a move towards privatization of education. Public schools are being threatened with takeover and in many cases, when they have been taken over the schools have ended up being closed down. Schools across the state are being threatened and largely it’s due to inequitable funding of schools. Rich school districts do fine; poor school districts don’t do so fine.”
Matta said education and the economy are linked, which is why education is a major topic in his campaign.
“If we were to invest more money in education, we’d see greater stimulus to the economy, we’d see better job skills, we’d have a better workforce,” Matta said.
In addition to his background in education, Matta has military experience, flying as a navigator in the U.S. Air Force and Reserves.
“I’ve worked as a college professor for 15 years before I became department chair at McLennan Community college 12 years ago,” Matta said. “I also spent six years after I graduated from college flying as a navigator. When I went back to graduate school, I stayed in the Reserve and served a total of 30 years as a commissioned officer.”
Voter turnout is a problem in District 17. Matta said he hopes to see more voters come to the polls this time around.
 “I would urge everyone to get out and vote because during the last election in this district only 28 percent of eligible voters voted,” Matta said. “If we were to get upwards of 50 percent voter turnout, I think we would see a different outcome. I would encourage everyone to get out and vote. This is the most important election of my lifetime and it’s not just because it’s the first timeI’ve ever run for public office. It is the most important election for our entire nation and for the world.”
William Flores
Flores is a former student of Texas A&M and said he felt that his experiences at A&M connect him to student voters and that he wants to help college students emerge from college into an economy where they can be successful.
“I’ve gone through the same Aggie experience that today’s college students are going through, though the times are a little different,” Flores said. “I am committed to making sure that this college generation today has the same opportunities when you graduate that I had … And a lot of college students today don’t have those opportunities … My goal is to take all that away so that our young people when they graduate can go out and build a great career, have a good job and get a good paycheck.”
College students are a major constituency in District 17. Many of the issues on the platform currently affect students or will in the next few years as they graduate and begin seeking jobs. Flores said while the efficiency of the government over the next few years is dependent upon the race for the White
House, he will stick to the same goals he always strives for.
“My goals are always the same. My goal is to try to improve economic opportunity for everyone in the district,” Flores said. “We do that through multiple methods. One is to push forward with tax reform. The second thing we need to look for is health care reform. We’ve got to reform our regulatory system. If you talk to the small businesses in the district, they’re just getting crushed with regulations coming out of Washington. That hurts economic opportunities for college students as they graduate.”
An issue Flores said he wants to address specifically in District 17 is assisting both those who fall below the poverty line and those who have resided there for a while.
“This district has pockets of poverty,” Flores said. “We need to look at poverty from a totally different angle and design a safety net program that catches people when they fall but then helps them bounce back out and get on their feet and get a good paying job.”
Flores said he encourages all registered students to vote, emphasizing it’s important to their futures.
“I think it’s really important for college students to think about their futures and how to be confident that they’ll be able to go out into an economy that will provide great careers, and so because of that, they need to register to vote and to make sure they go out to vote,” Flores said.

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