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Beto O’Rourke visits campus, ‘proud of Denton’ for marijuana ordinance

Beto O’Rourke visits campus, ‘proud of Denton’ for marijuana ordinance

Beto O’Rourke visits campus, ‘proud of Denton’ for marijuana ordinance
October 04
11:00 2022

On his eighth stop in his two-week college tour, democratic gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke visited the university for a sold-out rally. 

The Gateway Center Ballroom flooded with students Monday morning — some of whom had been waiting over an hour to secure front row seats. This was O’Rourke’s second visit to Denton in less than a month, and he was met with cheers as he trotted through the rows of seats sporting a University of North Texas cap. 

“We are all lucky to be here — bright and early on a Monday morning, 36 days from when this contest is going to be decided,” O’Rourke said. “It is arguably the most important election in the United States of America today and maybe in Texas history — given the stakes that are on the line right now.” 

Marijuana legalization was one talking point for O’Rourke. In a media gaggle after the rally, O’Rourke expressed his support for legalizing marijuana and expunging the records of those arrested for marijuana possession.

“What I have found from listening to our fellow Texans is that Republicans, independents, Democrats — including those here in Denton — want us to do the right thing to make marijuana legal, to stop spending half a billion dollars a year incarcerating people for possession of a substance that is legal in most of the rest of the United States,” O’Rourke said. “I’m really proud of Denton for taking the lead on this issue.”

The Denton City Council voted unanimously in July for a marijuana enforcement ordinance to be included on the ballot in the Nov. 8 election.

The ordinance aims to eliminate low-level marijuana enforcement by Denton Police. It will be voted on by Denton residents and will become an amendment to the city’s Code of Ordinances if passed.

O’Rourke suggested bringing in revenue from taxing the controlled, regulated sale of marijuana and doing right by those who are mistreated by the criminal justice system.

His main talking points included some of the most prominent and controversial issues in the state today, including gun control, immigration and reproductive rights following the near-total abortion ban in Texas. 

“We lead the nation in school shootings right now, and gun violence is the leading cause of death in children and teenagers in the state of Texas,” O’Rourke said. “This doesn’t have to be our future, our fortune or our fate. We can defend the Second Amendment and do a better job about protecting the lives of those in our community.”

To achieve this, O’Rourke suggests raising the age of purchase for AR-15s to at least 21, implementing red flag laws and repealing permitless carry.

In regards to the abortion ban, O’Rourke said women should be able to make their own healthcare decisions and plans to use every tool available to repeal the abortion ban. 

“Not only is this a total ban that begins at conception — there is no exception for rape and there’s no exception for incest,” he said. “If Texas women won the way 50 years ago, then Texas women are going to win it back in 2022.”

History freshman Vanessa Lingenfelter said she came to the event to hear what O’Rourke had to say about his policies and what he plans to do for Texas. 

“I would say he pretty much has my vote,” Lingenfelter said. “Reproductive rights [are] a huge thing for me, and his positions on funding for education throughout Texas schools is really important to me as well.”

O’Rourke emphasized many of his policies, like working toward a “world-class system of public education” can be agreed on by “Republicans, Democrats and independents alike.”

“Find me a Republican who’s going to argue the other side of these issues,” O’Rourke said. “We are about everyone. We write nobody off, and we take no one for granted. We’re talking about things like investing in public schools […], making sure that we expand Medicaid so everyone can see a doctor and being able to see a mental health care provider in a state whose largest provider of mental health care services today is the county jail system.”

O’Rourke has documented his campaign extensively on social media and caught the attention of national media several times, such as when he cursed at a heckler during a rally in August.

Psychology freshman Renata Nava said she resonates with O’Rourke’s policies, but came out to the event today to try to solidify her vote. 

“I want to see what’s not on social media, like everything that doesn’t get posted, and feel out the vibe of just who he is and what he believes in,” Nava said. 

O’Rourke said he needs the most support getting democracy back. In the state of Texas it is harder to register and vote than it is in any other state, he said. O’Rourke cited that 750 polling places have shut down in the state in the last 10 years. 

“This is our moment of truth, and I’m convinced that these young people are gonna be the margin of victory,” O’Rourke said. “Young voter turnout shot up 504 percent from the prior midterm election. Showing up and following the lead of young people really works.”

For information on voter registration and the November election, visit votetexas.gov.

Featured Image: Texas gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke speaks at the University of North Texas during his Beto for Texas College Tour on Oct. 3, 2022. Photo by Madeleine Moore

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Jillian Nachtigal

Jillian Nachtigal

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