Six Texas Democrats debated a number of issues ranging from gun control to immigration at a candidate forum Thursday.
The forum was hosted by the Frisco Democratic Club. The candidates are vying for the Democratic ticket to face Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas in the 2020 race.
The first question before them was what issue they felt "defined" their campaign.
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Sema Hernandez pointed to environmental justice and said she chose to run to represent "the most marginalized people."
"People in office don't necessarily know what it's like to be us – to live a normal life, to get day to day just getting by, so I decided I needed to step up and do something myself," Hernandez said.
Adrian Ocegueda said for him, one of the biggest issues he wants to see addressed is "structural change" in politics.
"Democrats talk a lot about progressive issues and I'm in support of all those issues. The view I'm looking at is how do we actually get that stuff accomplished – to move beyond just talking the sentimental politics and start moving the solutions of politics?" Ocegueda said.
On the issue of gun control, candidates were specifically asked what they believed could realistically be done to reduce gun violence. Former U.S. Representative Chris Bell said what has been done isn't working.
"Princeton University did a study that looked at all of these opinion polls on numerous controversial issues and found that whether there was 100% support for an issue or no support for an issue, there was still only a 30% chance that Congress would take any action," Bell said. "They are bought and paid for. Until you elect more independent minded people, it is not going to change."
Houston councilwoman Amanda Edwards called for what she considered sensible gun policies.
"Things like background checks, universal background checks, things like red flag policies," Edwards explained. "Why do you need guns if you have a restraining order against you? These are things that very easy, low hanging fruit."
Another issue that was up for debate was immigration.
"Do we have an issue at the border? Yes. Does it need to be addressed? Yes," Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas said. "We've got to make certain that in terms of on the border, that we have a judicial system that is fully funded."
Funding, according to candidate Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, is a crucial piece of the puzzle.
"That's why I'm calling for substantial divestment out of ICE and into the Department of Labor for wage and hour and safety violations for immigrant workers to protect the right of American workers," Tzintzún Ramirez said.
The Texas Democratic Primary is Tuesday, March 3, 2020.