At a recent meet-and-greet near Cameron Park in Waco, Texas, U.S. House candidate Pete Sessions casually discussed politics with curious guests while a housecat rubbed against his ankle. Sessions looked down and smiled. “Even cats like me,” he said.
But who is Pete Sessions? As of last Tuesday, he is the Representative-elect of Texas District 17, which includes Waco and areas as far south as College Station and Burleson County.
While newly elected to District 17, Sessions is not new to politics. He served for 22 years (1997-2019) as a U.S. House Representative for Texas Districts 5 and 32 respectively. In 2018, he was unseated by Democratic challenger (and Baylor graduate) Colin Allred. Since his defeat, Sessions has been strongly encouraged by friends and colleagues to get back into the race and to run now for District 17, which includes his hometown of Waco.
At the meet-and-greet, Sessions stood outside in a shaded yard and spoke about his background and core beliefs. He portrayed himself as a family man who believes in building a community where everyone can flourish. As a boy, he was an Eagle Scout like his father and grandfather before him, he threw newspapers for the Waco Tribune-Herald, and he attended Waco public schools until the ninth grade. Then, he left Waco for Washington, D.C., when his father, Bill Sessions, began his career in the Justice Department, eventually becoming Director of the FBI. Pete Sessions claims that his father did more than anyone to impress upon him a sense of duty and the importance of public service.
Discussing the current political climate, Sessions expressed two notable concerns. One concern was about the young generation’s fascination with socialism. He challenged his listeners to name one country where socialism has supplied a decent model for the U.S. to emulate. Another concern was the cash flow in Washington, where money is not as easily traced as it should be.
Beyond criticisms, Sessions identified five key policy areas where he intends to make a difference.
The first emerged when a prominent physician in the group asked about Sessions’ views on healthcare. Sessions replied that one of his chief goals is to “deliver better healthcare to families at lower costs.” He took time to outline a detailed plan for doing that, as laid out here.
Besides healthcare reform, Sessions will focus on keeping the nation safe through a strong national defense, fighting for a balanced federal budget, strengthening immigration laws, and ensuring that the U.S. remains competitive in Research and Development.
One of the most striking moments at the event came when Sessions was asked what he was most proud of in terms of past political accomplishments. Immediately, he recalled a bill for which he’d fought, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act (now federal law), which requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop and maintain a strategy for supporting the more than 43 million Americans who serve as unpaid caregivers for family members with various levels of medical need.
Sessions sponsored the bill in response to the struggles of one constituent in particular (and others like her) who served as a caregiver to an adopted orphan while struggling to maintain her own financial security. Her situation struck an immediate nerve with Sessions, who has raised a son with Down syndrome—a son who is also an Eagle Scout and a proud member of the labor force.
Overall, 37% of Sessions’ cosponsored bills have been health related, with his next highest issue-area being labor and employment.
During his remarks, Sessions promised to be closely connected with his district. He pointed out that while he was last in Congress, he spent every weekend (with very few exceptions) in his home district.
Pete Sessions has stated his policy positions clearly and civilly, and it is now up to his new constituents to engage with him. Many other campaigns do the same, and suffer both during and after campaigning from dissatisfied constituents who have not taken the time to research and get to know their representatives.
One need not agree with everything a public servant thinks in order to interact and to influence representatives. As with any interpersonal relationship, the more you know people, the more you can understand them and communicate with them through open channels. This is especially important when it comes to our elected representatives, who rely on their constituents to share their experiences and concerns in order to push for appropriate policies.
Reach out to Sessions and make your voice heard. It is not only Sessions’ sduty to be available, but also your right to speak to him and his team. Take advantage of your rights: Contact him through his campaign headquarters on Lake Air Drive, or by mail, phone, or email.