PLANO, Texas — As the first Democrat to win a Collin County House seat in nearly three decades, Representative-elect Mihaela Plesa understands the significance of her victory.
The boundaries for her district, HD-70, changed during the last round of redistricting. And the redrawn district was actually built to favor Democrats, so two other districts could be strengthened for Republicans.
Plesa says the Collin County GOP still did everything it could to hold onto the seat.
“They can outspend us, but they will not out work us,” the Democrat said on Inside Texas Politics. “We took the time to knock on every door in HD-70 and ask those constituents what can their government do for them. And we started every conversation like that.”
Plesa says that was around 10,000 doors in total and that personal connection, she continued, made a huge difference in her victory.
As a now former legislative director who helped write bills in the Texas House, she says her experience will help her in Austin next year.
She’s already filed legislation dealing with health literacy during the pre-filing period (HB 733) before the next legislative session kicks off in January.
And Plesa says she can draw on previous experience to help her reach across the aisle and cut through the partisanship in Austin.
“The bills that I’m filing aren’t just going to be beneficial to HD-70, they’re going to be beneficial to the entire state,” said Plesa. “And when you approach members and say that your constituents are going to want this, they have a tendency to listen.”
It will be difficult, though, as Republicans still enjoy a significant advantage in the Texas Legislature.
Plesa says she focused her campaign on public health, public education, fixing the grid and restoring rights.
And she’s already discussing one of the elephants in the room here in Texas: skyrocketing property taxes.
The Democrat says she’d like to begin trying to lower them by increasing the state’s contribution to public education.
“My priorities are going to be raising the basic allotment for per-pupil spending. The state of Texas is one of the least when it comes to paying per pupil for public education,” she told us. “I want to index that to inflation, so it keeps up with perpetuity. And we have the money to pay for our teachers and pay for the stuff that parents expect to get when they’re paying these property taxes and sending their kids to school.”