Race for TX HD64: Mat Pruneda's Ultimate Call to Action
Mat Pruneda has been involved politically since he was a teenager. His track record of involvement dates back to the early 90s when he began phone banking for Texas governor Ann Richards, who served from 1991-1995. He then served as a delegate in a state convention for former president Barack Obama in 2008.
Pruneda called himself “passively involved” during the Obama administration. However, upon the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, his growing involvement led him towards running for Texas House District 64 as a Democrat.
Pruneda joined resistance group Indivisible Denton and began attending more town hall and commissioners’ court meetings. Last year one of his children was hospitalized for a week with a breathing condition that Pruneda believes is exacerbated by the town's poor air quality. Denton has been rated as having the dirtiest air in Texas.
Environmental issues such as air quality are at the top of Pruneda’s list of issues he wants to tackle if elected.
“We need representatives who are personally invested in the fight to stop the poisoning of our air and water,” Pruneda said. “HB40 will require a legal challenge but the first thing we can do in the meantime is pass legislation that creates a safe zone between our schools and hospitals and fracking wells. This legislation was ready in the last session. It lacked advocates in the house. I will be that advocate.”
His wife is an ESL teacher, so Pruneda has some insight into several challenges Texas schools face. He wants to restructure curriculum to be logic-based by emphasizing coding and problem-solving skills in the classroom.
“Texas actually has the money to fund education at the levels it did in the past but our property taxes are through the roof,” Pruneda said. “I will demand a re-evaluation of the Cost of Education index to ensure our schools are funded and we can begin the work of reforming property tax.”
With Matt Farmer dropping out of the race, Pruneda is running for office alongside Andrew Morris on the Democratic ballot. Pruneda anticipates a run-off and fundraising hurdles. However, he sees his experiences as a financial analyst, negotiator, father and homeowner, as qualities that set him apart from his opponents.
Pruneda also said minority representation is key to tackling the vocalized bigotry that has dominated elections, emphasizing 2016.
“The 2017 session was notable for discrimination against minorities, people of color, our LGBTQ community and for attacking women’s health care,” Pruneda said. “We must protect the liberty of Texans against the infringement of their rights by a minority hell-bent on dividing us and destroying the independent spirit that this state was built on. The rhetoric based on bigotry that is overtaking the GOP is not only a threat to civil rights, but it constitutes a dangerous threat to people who are not actively represented in our community.”
While national politics constantly dominate the headlines, Pruneda believes in the value of voting in local elections.
“There’s a banner in [the] Denton Matters [Facebook group] that reads ‘If you want to be an agent of change, it is simple, Vote Locally,’” Pruneda said. “People get caught up in the romance and excitement of national elections for big offices. They forget that local and state elections affect them more. The decisions that directly impacted or scared most people were made in Austin this year and those decisions were made by people with ties to specific special interests. Voters in Denton and surrounding areas can change that. It doesn’t take millions of votes either. Really, I need just a few thousand votes to make that difference.”
There is an upcoming debate on Thursday, Jan. 25 at UNT where the Democratic candidates will be able to face off for the interests of the district. Pruneda is also at UNT College Dems meetings regularly. Pruneda's Facebook page has information on upcoming events and how to support his campaign.
Header image photographed by Tanner Tovar
Header image layout designed by Holden Foster