Meet District 32 Democratic Candidate: Lillian Salerno

Lillian Salerno – Attorney, businesswoman

Why are you running for Congress?
I’m running because I know how hard it is to fight for every opportunity when the cards are stacked against you, and I believe the people of TX-32 deserve a leader who will fight for them.

My story is also the American story. I grew up with few resources. I am a first-generation college graduate and paid for my tuition at UT-Austin through Pell grants and by waiting tables. I started my first business at the age of twenty-five, earned my law degree from SMU, ultimately entered public service, and raised three kids (a son and two adopted daughters) as a single mom. I was able to create the life I have now because I had economic opportunity, and because of people who believed in me and invested in me. My story is one that voters in this district can relate to — every person deserves a fair shot to build a life for themselves.

The system is not working for working families. While the stock market soars and unemployment numbers sink, there’s a different reality facing most Texans: stagnant wages and less opportunity. Our young people are graduating from our community colleges or universities with the skills and knowledge to build prosperity for our families and our nation, yet they are burdened with such debt that they may never get above water. Those who have the innovative ideas and hard work to create new businesses and jobs are being shut out by the handful of big corporations who have a stranglehold on the market. Our infrastructure is in desperate need of repair, while millions are out of work.

Instead of building an agenda that expands opportunity for the families that need it most, the Trump Administration and the unrecognizable Republican Party controlling Congress are at work eroding the middle class, infringing upon the rights of vulnerable communities, and continuing their assault on women’s lives and their bodies. From attempting to throw 22 million people off of their healthcare; to the massive tax giveaway to corporations and billionaires at the expense of our children and grandchildren; to the betrayal of our DREAMers; to the attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood, Pete Sessions is not representing the people of North Texas.
We need a leader with a proven track record of standing up for women and working people.

As an attorney, I defended women, Hispanics, low-income workers, and other vulnerable communities. As a small businesswoman, I fought for nurses who lacked the proper tools to treat patients without risking their own lives. I took on big medical corporations that were putting profits over safety and won. As the Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development in the Obama Administration, I worked to bring economic opportunity to rural communities, like connecting local farmers here in Texas and ensuring access to clean drinking water in Alaska.

My whole career, I’ve fought to create opportunity. With this Administration, I worry that every day, opportunity grows further out of reach. I entered this race after the Republicans’ attempted repeal of Obamacare last summer, which put millions of families at risk. Without women like Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, and advocates like Planned Parenthood and the multitudes of women organizing here in Texas, they would have gotten away with it. And I knew I couldn’t stand by and watch.

I’m running for Congress to represent the 32nd Congressional District of Texas because this community deserves a leader who will fight for them.

We need a leader who will create economic opportunity for working families, invest in our communities, and defend against the assault on women. I’m running to take on the system and stand up for the people — for my children and all Texans who want a better future for the next generation.

What makes you the best Democrat to challenge the Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions?
Voters in TX-32 should choose me as their candidate because I’m an experienced leader who knows how to stand up to power.

We need someone who has a proven track record of getting things done, and who will challenge the power structure of Washington D.C. I have witnessed firsthand the paralysis created by the stranglehold of special corporate interests and hyper-partisanship in our legislative process. This paralysis puts our families at risk. Whether it’s Congress’s inability to protect our DREAMers, provide healthcare to the most vulnerable, or pass an appropriations bill, our legislative process is not working.
This district deserves an experienced fighter who has drafted and passed bipartisan legislation, testified on congressional budgets and provided leadership to thousands of federal employees. After leading a federal agency, operating a small business, and raising three kids as a single mom, I will be ready to lead on day one in office.

We need a leader who will stand up to the vested, special interests that control Washington and return power to those Congress is intended to serve — its constituents. I will do that because I’ve stood up to bullies my whole life. I stood up to special corporate interests to get my company’s product on the market. I stood up to Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to protect nurses and patients. I stood up to leaders of the Democratic Party when lobbying on behalf of women and minority entrepreneurs, consumer groups, and unions during negotiations on the Affordable Care Act in order to bring down health care costs and increase transparency. That’s the type of leader I will be when elected — someone who stands up for what’s right.

How would you be able to get things done in a very divided Washington?
In short, because I’ve done it before. I have worked across the aisle on three landmark pieces of legislation throughout the course of my career: the Farm Bill, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in the Bush Administration and the Healthcare Workers Safety Bill in 2000. In all of these cases, I saw that it was more important to the country that these bills get passed through compromise than it was to stick to party lines. Washington is more divided now than ever before. That is why it is so important that we elect representatives who are willing and able to find common ground and get things done.

What are your legislative priorities?
My top concerns ARE my top legislative priorities for the district. They are in the areas of healthcare and equality of economic opportunity.

Every American should have access to affordable, high-quality health care. But the economic and political power of insurance, hospital, and pharmaceutical monopolies stands in the way of progress.
Today, companies in the healthcare industry continue to make tremendous profits even though health care is increasingly expensive and out of reach for American families. We can’t stand for this. We need a system that is affordable, transparent, delivers high-quality patient care, and prioritizes keeping people healthy and well.

The wealthiest corporations and individuals have too much control over our economy and too much influence over our politics.

They’ve succeeded in rigging — and writing — the rules to amass more and more power and wealth for themselves. This is the reason why wages are stagnant, independent businesses struggle, and policies that support the middle class, from investments in everything from education to infrastructure, go nowhere in Washington. Millionaires and billionaires like Pete Sessions and Donald Trump are all in for an economy that benefits their friends at the very top — the opposite of the ideals of opportunity for all that our country was founded upon. We need leaders who will fight to restore working families with the political and economic control that has been taken from them.