Student runs for Texas House of Representatives

Student runs for Texas House of Representatives

October 25
00:02 2012

Eleanor Sadler / Staff Writer

Mary Brown, a mechanical and energy engineering senior minoring in anthropology, economics, Japanese and political science, doesn’t often miss class.

But in 2007, when Brown was a student at Clear Creek High School near Houston, her parents made an exception and let their daughter skip school for a day to see then-Senator Barack Obama speak in Austin.

Brown’s extracurricular field trip to see the current president stands out as an early sign of her interest in politics, a lifelong passion that led her to get involved with the local Democratic Party when she came to UNT in 2008.

Now Brown, 23, is running in the election to represent Texas’ 64th district, which includes Denton, in the state’s House of Representatives.

There are only two members of the House currently younger than 30, according to the Texas Legislative Reference Library, and if Brown is elected, she would become the youngest representative voted into office in recent memory.

“We are supposed to find a way that we can be involved in the [political] process,” Brown said. “And I thought the best way for me to be involved was to run for office.”

A full-time student, Brown works as a beverage cart attendant at the Texas Woman’s University golf course to help pay for her student loans. She is heavily involved with the Denton County Democrats and is a former president of the university’s Democratic chapter.

Brown is challenging Republican incumbent Myra Crownover, who has represented the 64th district in the Texas Legislature for more than a decade.

Crownover did not respond to requests for comment, but supporters have pointed to her six terms of legislative experience in Austin as a sign of the candidate’s strength.

Crownover, who has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, has supported statewide cuts to balance the budget and sponsored bills requiring drilling companies in North Texas to disclose chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing. In 2009, she supported a student athletic fee to help pay for Apogee Stadium.

Brown said she was most passionate about education reform and student issues, as well as civil rights for Texans. She said what she lacks in political experience she makes up for in life experience.

“I think I am somebody who has worked at minimum wage more recently than [Crownover] has, and somebody who understands what it looks like when your checking account balance is a smaller amount than the amount of bills you have to pay that month,” Brown said.

Political science junior Travis Trawick, Brown’s boyfriend and a member of her campaign staff, said he was not surprised she had decided to run for office because of her ambition and concern for others.

“She’s been very active around the community, and she’s always taken leadership positions in pretty much everything that she’s done,” he said. “To see her try to run for state house to help better the education and future of Texas ­– it doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Political science professor Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha said that a student running for office would hopefully inspire other students to get politically involved.

“I think it’s something that other students on campus can look at and say, ‘Wow, she’s doing that, and maybe that’s something I can do,’” he said. “I think it’s really good experience, and I think it’s helpful for the university as well, to kind of tie in UNT to the 64th district.”

Election Day is Nov. 6, and early voting began in Denton this week. For voting times and locations, go to elections.dentoncounty.com.

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