Congressional hopeful visits Copperas Cove
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Julie Oliver has one more obstacle before the November general election, and that’s a May 22 runoff that pits her against Chris Perri for a spot on the Democratic ticket for the United States House of Representatives for District 25.
Perri came out ahead of Oliver in the primary, 32.8 percent to Oliver’s 26.5 percent, but she remains undeterred in making connections with those whom she hopes will be her future constituents. The winner of the primary runoff will face incumbent Roger Williams in November.
Oliver held a town hall meeting on Saturday at Ches’s Restaurant, and during the two hours discussed and fielded questions on topics like healthcare, immigration, border security, education, gun control, and women’s rights.
She said one of the reasons she’s outperformed her challenger in the primary is that she has visited all 12 counties in the congressional district and will continue to meet with as many voters as she can.
A self-described former “Medicaid mom,” Oliver put herself through college and became an attorney, a field which she has worked in for two decades, first as a tax attorney and then working in the area of healthcare finance.
“When I stepped into this race in October, I started traveling this district. I’ve learned a lot in six months, 20,000 miles on my car,” Oliver said.
During her campaign, Oliver said she has heard many stories which continue to compel her to run, such as the case of an 11-year-old Austin boy with a traumatic brain injury whose health insurance coverage ran out and Medicaid will only pay for two physical therapy visits a month. The catch is, his neurologist has said he could recover if he had the physical therapy twice a week.
This is just one of the stories Oliver calls “heart-wrenching.”
Where the issue of guns is concerned, Oliver said she knows three families personally who have been affected by gun violence, with three family members having been murdered.
“That’s too many,” she said.
On the second amendment and gun control, Oliver said the late United States Supreme Court Justice Scalia said that our second amendment rights are “not unlimited.” Oliver said that most Americans would agree that universal background checks should be enacted, including for private gun sales.
She called for “common sense” gun legislation - not trying to “strip guns out of people’s hands.”
“I grew up with guns. My dad taught me how to shoot a gun. I have a brother who served in the military. My dad served in the military.”
As far as veterans’ healthcare is concerned, Oliver said she is against privatizing the VA and she sees no “pros” to that idea. One voter asked what she could do, besides calling current representatives.
Oliver said the current representative doesn’t listen to his constituents and the biggest thing is to vote, “you have to vote him out.” She called for others to encourage voter registration by April 22, the cutoff to register before the runoff.
“You want someone who is favorable to military service men and women. We need to honor our commitments to our veterans. We should be expanding services, not shrinking services…We have to continue to shore up our Veterans Affairs departments.”
For education, Oliver is absolutely against school vouchers and pro public education.
“We already know Texas doesn’t fully fund its public schools shouldn’t be pulling from districts to privatize education. Vouchers are a form of privatizing education.”
Where healthcare is concerned, Oliver spoke from her experience in the healthcare finance world and she said it is possible to get healthcare for all, nationwide.
“The numbers work to get us there. It’s only their obstinance that won’t’ allow us to get healthcare for everybody,” Oliver said. “The numbers work and we’d be paying a lot less for it. When you deny people access, healthcare rates lift up. Because they’re still going to get healthcare, they’ll just get it through our ERs, one of the most expensive levels of care…You could see a primary care physician 100 to 1,000 times before equating an ER visit or a hospital visit, when you’re uninsured. That’s just how the numbers work.
“If you have someone with diabetes and hypertension, you treat them in a primary care setting, and it’s so much less cost.”
Oliver said one thing that distinguishes her from both her runoff opponent and the current Congressman is that she can speak credibly on how healthcare is financed.
“When you don’t have an understanding about something, you probably can’t competently legislate from there,” she said. “Making sure you pick the right person in May, will ensure we have a shot in November.”
Covites have another opportunity to hear Oliver speak at the Democrats of Copperas Cove gathering at German Imbiss today at 6 p.m.