HOUSTON CHRONICLE OP-ED: Hey Democrats, Houston is waiting to hear how you’ll unite America [Opinion]

Houston—the most diverse city in the country—is home to visionaries, problem solvers and innovators. Here, we work together to develop technology, lead cutting-edge medical research and provide unparalleled care, keep our economy moving through one of the country’s largest ports, and supply energy to the world.

Houston’s present will be America’s future. That’s why it is no surprise that the Democratic Party chose Houston to host a presidential primary debate.

As 10 candidates take the debate stage here on Thursday, I will be watching for the candidates to speak to the issues my constituents and I care about most: working with others to get things done; solving problems with common sense, facts, and expertise with a positive vision for the future; and honoring the fundamental principles of a government of, by, and for all of the people.

I want to know how a candidate will work with members of Congress from both parties to get things done—respecting the people we represent and the process our Founders envisioned. That is the clear message from my constituents. We work together, and we expect our elected leaders to do the same—efficiently, effectively and ethically. That means leading, not blaming. That means addressing issues, not avoiding them. And that means listening to many, not few.

Working together to solve problems is essential. In Houston, we use common sense. We rely on the facts. And we consult with experts in the field. We want to see that applied to our nation’s infrastructure in a plan for our roads, bridges, waterways, and pipelines that move people and energy across our country and to our health and our health care with a plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions and address access and affordability of care and medicines by building on the Affordable Care Act. We also want to see common sense applied to our immigration system with a real-world strategy for comprehensive immigration reform, to our foreign policy and to our elections.

We want to see a pragmatic, thoughtful approach when it comes to our safety, in particular to common-sense gun safety. We also want to see that approach when it comes to our energy future. There is no place with more experts on energy than Houston, the energy capital of the world. We want you to ask us what we can do to power the world and preserve the planet. And to listen to our answers. We want to see that thoughtful, inclusive approach when it comes to any action taken in the name of the American people. We deserve it.

We deserve a president who will bring us together, not tear us apart. From the candidates, I want to hear what each will do to unify our country. The best presidents seek to bring out the best in all of us, want the best for all of us, and remind all of us of our common values, experiences, and future as Americans. We need that now.

Here in Houston, we know about vision. We haven’t forgotten that the first word spoken from the moon was “Houston.” We believe that working together, we can accomplish anything. And we can show the country how. Candidates, welcome to Houston.

Fletcher represents the 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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