Finding solutions

On Saturday, September 22nd, we held our biennial Texas 101 Day at Tarrant County College Southeast Campus where residents of District 101 and others joined together to discuss major issues impacting our area. This year we focused solely on transportation and improving the health of our community.

After presentations from the JPS Health Network on the proposed bond election (click here for the presentation) and the Tarrant Transit Alliance on local transportation needs (click here for the presentation), we divided attendees into smaller groups to discuss one of the two issues.

When we merged after an hour or so of small group discussion, here’s some of what they had to say:

HEALTHY COMMUNITIES
Challenges
  • There’s a need for increased access to medical services in our community
  • Texas leads the nation in the rate of uninsured, which impacts the cost of medical care for all in our state and the health of our communities
  • Low voter turnout & lack of transportation could negatively impact the success of the November 6th JPS Bond election

Solutions

  • Passage of the JPS Bond will help increase access to care with additional and expanded facilities
  • Expanding Medicaid would directly impact the uninsured rate by providing coverage for over 1 million Texas adults and would likely lower health insurance costs
  • Vote! – and do your part to get others to vote on this important measure. Access to transportation and health care go hand in hand. Need to expand transit options to ensure that people can not only vote, but also seek medical treatment.

TRANSPORTATION
Challenges

  • No access to a local comprehensive mass transit system, which negatively impacts many in our community, including many students attending UT Arlington and Tarrant County College Southeast Campus
  • There’s a lack of education about different options and services
  • Past elections when this issue was not approved by voters had extremely low turnout
Solutions

  • Increase opportunities to discuss transit options and engage college students in the process as they play a key role in our community
  • Add more voices to the discussion about positives and possibilities of increasing transit options; those in support need to make their voices heard. Use social media to educate and create a call to action.
  • If there is an applicable measure, strongly urge city leaders to put it on a November ballot to ensure higher turnout.
Working together, the women and men in attendance were able to confront existing challenges with potential solutions. By doing this, not only did they feel empowered to have the conversations — which sometimes can be difficult — but many felt driven to act.
At the beginning of the event, before the presentations, I reminded attendees how powerful this type of gathering and collaboration could be for our community. Four years ago, we had a room full of people talking about payday lending and how these predatory practices have negatively impacted so many of our neighbors. Now, in part due to the action by the people in the room that day, both Arlington and Grand Prairie now have payday lending ordinances in place. 
As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 
Texas 101 Day is a prime example of such commitment.
I look forward to continuing to work together on these critical issues and to our next Texas 101 Day in Arlington in 2020.

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