Green candidate challenges Sessions

Posted on 14 Oct 2016 at 7:00am

Gary Stuard worries about the environment, economic justice and the power of multinational corporations



DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions once said he didn’t have any gay people in his district. Gary Stuard, who is challenging Sessions in the election in November on the Green Party ticket, disagrees.

“The last time I checked with my husband, we were gay,” he said, noting that he supports full equality legislation that includes the transgender community. Without such legislation, Stuard knows he and other LGBT people can lose their jobs because of who they love.

Stuard works for a mental health mental retardation agency in Corsicana — he commutes from his East Dallas home daily — where he mostly works with kids with autism. “These are kids affected by the policies of Pete Sessions,” as well as by the policies of the current and previous governors who refuse to expand Medicaid coverage, he said. “Kids are suffering.”

And each year funding gets tighter and tighter, he said, adding that “Healthcare is a human right.”

Stuard said he decided to enter the race because there was no Democrat or progressive running against Sessions. “I’ve been sympathetic to the Green Party for a number of years,” he said.

That support goes back to the 1980s and his support of environmental issues. Today, Stuard’s main concerns are ending use of fossil fuels, economic justice and ending the influence of large, multinational corporations.

He said fracking is destroying the environment and noted that when Denton decided to end the practice within the city, the state stepped in and overturned its local ordinance. He said this is important to people in his district because “Pete Sessions in the pocket of oil companies.”

But the issue is much larger than just fracking.

“We’re rapidly running out of time to do anything about climate change,” Stuard warned. “When Pete Sessions was asked at a town hall meeting about his failure to address climate change, his answer was that the planet is cooling.”

Stuard said he’d like to see new funding put to use finding new and more efficient energy sources. “Stop funding the fossil fuel industry,” he demanded, calling the oil companies “criminal entities.”

He’d also like some of the funding that would expand healthcare to everyone and energy research to come out of the defense budget, which he said could be cut by as much as 50 percent.

While he suggested that oil companies could be part of the solution, Stuard doubts those companies have any interest in developing new power sources. “And we don’t want them to have a monopoly on technology,” he said. “People in the oil industry should be prosecuted for what they’ve done.”

Banking is another of Stuard’s targets. He points out that it was big banks that were responsible for the 2008 recession.

Responding to recent allegations against Wells Fargo, where executives had employees create fake accounts to generate revenue and then fired employees for following that policy while taking huge bonuses for themselves, Stuard said banks and Wall Street need “far more regulation.”

He believes corruption in the banking industry is widespread and CEOs are simply hiding behind the idea of their companies being so large they can’t possibly know everything that’s going on.

“When things become so big and aloof from their communities, that results in abuse and corruption,” Stuard said. “Bust them up,” he said, adding that the country worked much better when local banks financed local businesses.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Stuard warned, would be an environmental and economic disaster, because international courts would overrule local laws.

“Arbitration courts would have full reign,” he said.

So even if one country had good environmental policies in place, that country could be heavily fined for enforcing its own laws.

While acknowledging that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has come out against the TPP, he noted she was once for it and worried she would support it again once in office.

Campaign finance is another issue on Stuard’s agenda.

Stuard said the system is rigged to help the top 1 percent. One way to change that, he suggested, was public financing of elections, more public forums and true debates. In office, he would like to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, something that would take a new case or a constitutional amendment to accomplish. “We need to get money out of politics or there’s no hope,” he said.

To finance his campaign, Stuard is relying on small donations. He’s attended events in and around his district such, as Pride, and is using social media, canvassing, block walking and speaking at meetings.

“The Green Party is not accepting PAC money,” he said.

Stuard participated in a debate at UT Dallas on Oct. 12. Libertarian candidate Ed Rankin was there, but Sessions was a no-show. Stuard also reminded Democrats in his district that there’s no Democratic candidate in this race. Even if voting a straight party ticket, they can go back and vote off-party in this race without affecting their vote in other races.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2016.

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