Meet the candidates running to represent parts of Tarrant, Dallas counties in U.S. House

dfwnewsa | February 19, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Meet the candidates running to represent parts of Tarrant, Dallas counties in U.S. House

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, left, is running against Farmers Branch business owner and activist Carlos Quintanilla, center left, for the Democratic nomination for Texas’ U.S. House District 33. Kurt Schwab, center right, and Patrick David Gillespie, right, are seeking the Republican nomination. (Courtesy photos | Candidate websites)
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Familiar names will be on the March 5 primary ballot for Texas’ U.S House District 33, which spans Tarrant and Dallas counties. 

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U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, is seeking his seventh term in a district he has represented since its creation in 2013. His opponent, Farmers Branch business owner and activist Carlos Quintanilla, has challenged Veasey for the seat in each election cycle since 2012. 

Patrick David Gillespie, who lost to Veasey as the Republican nominee in the 2022 election, is again running for the Republican nomination. This time, he will face veteran and nonprofit executive Kurt Schwab in the primary. 

Veasey’s campaign has $917,849 in cash on hand, according to his January campaign finance filings. Schwab raised $3,153 and loaned himself $9,197 through the end of 2023. Neither Quintanilla nor Gillespie have filed campaign finance reports, according to the Federal Election Commission database. 

The district covers parts of Fort Worth, Arlington, Forest Hill, Grand Prairie, Haltom City, Saginaw and Sansom Park and the entirety of Everman. Veasey also represents parts of Dallas County cities, including Dallas, Irving, Farmers Branch, Carrollton and Cockrell Hill.

Early voting for the primaries begins Feb. 20 and ends March 1. Election Day is March 5, and the general election is Nov. 5. 

Each candidate was asked the same questions about their priorities for the district, their support for the Panther Island flood control project and why they’re the best person to represent U.S. House District 33. Responses have been lightly edited for style and length. 

Democratic primary

Marc Veasey

U.S. Rep Marc Veasey has represented Texas’ U.S. House District 33 since 2013. (Courtesy image | U.S. House of Representatives)

Age: 53

Occupation: Member of Congress

Campaign website: marcveasey.com

What do you see as the top issues facing the district, and how would you work to address them? 

U.S. House District 33 faces many pressing challenges. Access to affordable health care, better career opportunities for people and families who live in low-income communities, protection of our reproductive freedom, accessing the right to vote, safe and travelable infrastructure, curbing gun violence, and good education for Texas kids are some of the biggest problems facing the state right now. Democrats in Congress are doing our best to work with reasonable Republicans to pass legislation to help our constituents and address these issues. 

Texas’ U.S. House District 33 spans two counties and 13 cities. How would you effectively engage with residents and represent the interests of this diverse district? 

Since I was sworn into the House of Representatives in 2013, my offices and I have worked to effectively engage with communities across the 33rd District on a daily basis. Whether it be meeting with constituents, local groups, activists or attending events across the 33rd District, we ensure we are traveling across the district. My offices in Dallas and Fort Worth have always worked to help constituents by communicating with government agencies on their behalf to access important benefits. We also work with local nonprofits to help obtain critical funding for community projects.

Every day, both in Washington and back on the ground here in North Texas, I am working diligently to serve our community. Whether I’m working with my fellow members in Congress to pass legislation that directly helps North Texans, securing important funding, or meeting with constituents to hear their concerns and help fix their problems, I am always working to serve our community. 

What is your position on the $1.1 billion Panther Island project and securing more federal funds for the project, given that the future island is in your district? 

I have been a longtime advocate of this vital project for Fort Worth. For years, I worked alongside Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth (U.S. House District 12) in a bipartisan fashion to appropriate funding for this project. In January 2022, I proudly worked alongside the Biden-Harris administration to secure $403 million in new funding for the Trinity River Project from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I helped pass. In 2023, this project received an additional $20 million to continue the design and construction. In Congress, I will keep working to deliver more funding to help complete it. 

Why are you the best candidate to represent Texas’ U.S. House District 33? 

I have proudly served in Congress for over six terms. During this time, I have used my position to create jobs, expand affordable and accessible health care, bolster our infrastructure in North Texas, protect voting rights, fight for comprehensive immigration reform, and help my constituents access critical COVID-19 relief and resources.

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I also have had the opportunity to serve on the Energy and Commerce and House Armed Services Committee. Given Texas’ dominance in the energy sector and the number of service members and defense companies that call North Texas home, I have used these positions to deliver critical resources to our state. 

I am also proud of my work with the Biden-Harris administration and the congressional leaders to secure key funding that has directly benefited North Texas. In a divided Congress, I have close relationships with our Republican counterparts and am working across the aisle to still deliver for North Texas. I am seeking reelection because I want to continue my mission to serve and deliver resources to the 33rd District of Texas.

Carlos Quintanilla

Carlos Quintanilla, a Farmers Branch activist, is running for the Democratic nomination for Texas’ U.S. House District 33. (Courtesy image | Carlos Quintanilla)

Age: 66

Occupation: Business owner, activist and grandfather

Campaign website: quintanillafortexas.com

What do you see as the top issues facing the district, and how would you work to address them? 

There’s a lot of issues that are affecting U.S. House District 33. The 33rd Congressional District, despite having two major anchor cities in Dallas and Fort Worth, continues to be one of the poorest congressional districts in Texas. One of the ZIP codes, 76104, is one of the poorest ZIP codes in the country. It has the highest mortality rate of any ZIP code in the country and it’s been abandoned. It’s been neglected. It’s been ignored, and you have a serious, serious problem in 76104, which is in the heart of the congressional district and happens to be a predominantly African-American congressional district.

Our congressman has abandoned, pretty much, the poor African-American community of Fort Worth like he has abandoned the rest of our communities. He was absent when the fentanyl crisis was happening in Carrollton among young people. He’s been absent with Black Lives Matter. He has been absent on immigration and providing much needed help and resources to

immigrant families despite the fact that they are contributing significantly to the well-being of the state of Texas. He has shown no strong support for immigrant families.

He doesn’t speak for the poor people of U.S. House District 33. He does not speak for the Latino community, does not speak for the Muslim community. He is a shameful, disappointing congressman that needs to be defeated.

Texas’ U.S. House District 33 spans two counties and 13 cities. How would you effectively engage with residents and represent the interests of this diverse district? 

I’ve been engaged on many issues throughout the Metroplex. I’ve been involved in Fort Worth and La Gran Plaza, the murder of the young man Brandon [Zapata]. I’ve been involved in Black Lives Matter, the protests of Vanessa Guillen in Fort Worth and Dallas. I led the campaign to sue Farmers Branch on their horrible anti-immigrant legislation that wanted to prohibit immigrants from renting apartments and was the seminal immigration anti-immigration case that later went to Arizona and Escondido and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where there was this anti-immigrant ferment. I sued the city of Farmers Branch. We obtained a federal restraining order against them and eventually the Supreme Court rejected their appeals.

I did the anti-black tar cheese heroin campaign when children were dying from black tar heroin, when thousands and thousands of young children were becoming addicted to heroin. Thirty-seven died, and I led that campaign by creating a task force against cheese heroin that included Fort Worth, Arlington, Farmers Branch, Louisville and Cedar Hill. It included all those cities and created a task force that I chaired.

Most importantly, I created Breakfast in the Classroom. Most people do not know that Breakfast in the Classroom that feeds 250,000 children every day was my brainchild. It was my contribution to my children and to the children of Texas. I brought it to the Dallas Independent School District, Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Arlington, Fort Worth. Breakfast in the Classroom started with my money, with my investment, with my small contribution to bring quality food to young children within the district. I have a history of broad involvement in the community.

What is your position on the $1.1 billion Panther Island project and securing more federal funds for the project, given that the future island is in your district? 

I would have to reevaluate it. I’m not 100% in favor of it. I know there’s an entertainment event venue. I know its purpose is flood control, but I think that $400 million could be better spent in poor communities of color. I think it could be spent on other things. I think that I believe very strongly that we need to bring in resources for communities like Oak Cliff, like Bachman Lake and like 76104. 

What are the needs of the people of the 33rd Congressional District and how does Panther Island benefit the constituents of the 33rd Congressional District? What happens to the revenue that’s generated by the water district? How much of that money is being reinvested in poor communities and African-American communities, in Latino communities and poor white communities? Is that money that has been spent on Panther Island generating jobs? 

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Without evaluating all of that, without feeling comfortable that the Panther Island expansion or more federal funds is consistent with my overall goals for the 33rd Congressional District, I’m not going to take any action on that. I would have to meet with the leadership. I would have to meet with the movers and shakers of Panther Island and then see if I’m convinced that any more money for Panther Island will benefit the rest of the 33rd Congressional District, including 76104, the poorest Black community in Texas. 

Why are you the best candidate to represent Texas’ U.S. House District 33? 

Because I’m not going to be beholden to Raytheon or Lockheed Martin or Sadiq or fracking companies or predatory lenders. If there’s a vote on consumer protections, I’m going to vote for consumer protections, not like my opponent who voted to eliminate consumer protections. If there are votes on the environment, I’m going to be a pro environmental congressman, not like my opponent who has voted in favor of the Keystone pipeline and has voted to eliminate any kind of OSHA protections for fracking (near) homeowners and residents. 

I’m going to be very active in our community. I’m going to have an active congressional office where people can come to my office and feel that they have a congressman who’s going to fight for them and who’s going to provide them with the necessary resources so that they can live a better life. My congressional office is going to belong to the people of the 33rd Congressional District, and it’s not going to belong to private, public, corporate donors.

Republican primary

Kurt Schwab 

Kurt Schwab, founder of a veterans support organization, is running in the Republican primary for Texas’ U.S. House District 33. (Courtesy image | Kurt Schwab)

John D. Diggs, policy adviser for Schwab’s campaign, responded to questions on Schwab’s behalf. 

Age: 57

Occupation: Veteran, founder and executive director of Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (VOIEF)

Campaign website: kurtschwab4congress.com

What do you see as the top issues facing the district, and how would you work to address them? 

The top three issues facing the district are in the areas of health care, education and border, and Kurt will work to address them as follows:

H – Health care: To ensure our communities have access to health care by establishing mobile medical facilities on a recurring basis at designated locations throughout the district. Utilize existing service provided through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The focus being for the government to not be a stand-alone solution but to provide baseline resources to provide quality health care support to those in need. The medical facilities must be mobile to reach out and go to the communities that otherwise would not be able to obtain or afford health care.

E – Education: Our schools have become more than a place to learn, and our teachers are not being taken care of. Teachers need to be able to educate our children in a safe, secure environment. Currently, teacher salaries need to be brought to a higher scale and have adequate safety and tools in the classrooms. Education is the key to providing our children with the tools and understanding they need to make good decisions and protect our children from the many challenges they will face – especially with our degraded border controls and the associated increase in drug trade and human trafficking.

B – Border: The government currently funds nongovernmental organizations to provide services to illegal immigrants, which creates an unintended cycle of more illegals crossing the border to receive services and further growing the size and the cost to fund the NGOs providing the services. We must break this cycle that encourages the scourge of human trafficking and the delivery of fentanyl into our communities by cutting funding to those NGOs who help encourage the flood of unlawful immigration.

Texas’ U.S. House District 33 spans two counties and 13 cities. How would you effectively engage with residents and represent the interests of this diverse district? 

We must connect with the communities we serve at all levels. Government cannot support effective solutions to problems we face unless it truly represents the people it serves. This will require outreach through our churches, community centers, and support services centers throughout the district.  

Our diverse and underserved communities must be served by genuine servant leaders. Kurt Schwab has a history of selfless service both in the military and as the founder and director of nonprofit organizations. Kurt is a true servant leader who connects with the communities he serves and as a combat veteran knows how to successfully guide missions to completion leaving no one behind. 

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Kurt will be a voice for those that are not currently being heard. Once elected, Kurt will work with other veterans in Congress, across both sides of the aisle, to inject common sense back into government and to “hold the line” for the people he serves against all the challenges we currently face at home and abroad. Kurt will represent all peoples in CD-33: No one will be left behind.

What is your position on the $1.1 billion Panther Island project and securing more federal funds for the project, given that the future island is in your district? 

If the Panther Island project is currently adding tangible value to the people of the district, will add value to the people once it is completed, and is a project the voters of the district continue to support, Kurt will seek continued federal, state, local, business, and other philanthropic support to complete what we started as partners for the betterment of our communities.

Why are you the best candidate to represent Texas’ U.S. House District 33? 

Kurt Schwab is a veteran and a servant leader with a lifetime of selfless service with the military, law enforcement, the USO and other nonprofit foundations. He knows what it takes to get the job done and will always do what needs to be done to take care of the people of CD-33. Kurt will connect with the Texas communities he serves and represent their voices in Congress. He puts family first and will promote the improved health, education and security of our communities. Kurt Schwab will leave no one behind in CD-33.

Patrick David Gillespie 

Patrick David Gillespie, who works for UPS Supply Chain Solutions, is running in the Republican primary for Texas’ U.S. House District 33. (Courtesy image | Patrick David Gillespie)

Age: 66 years

Occupation: Customs brokerage entry writer for UPS Supply Chain Solutions

Campaign website: patrickgillespie4congress33.com

What do you see as the top issues facing the district, and how would you work to address them? 

I see seven opportunity zones created under former President Trump in U.S. House District 33 not being promoted by Marc Veasey to give training and job opportunities to the underemployed and youths. I would promote these and all 12 plus opportunity zones in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas to give training and job opportunities to all citizens.

Texas’ U.S. House District 33 spans two counties and 13 cities. How would you effectively engage with residents and represent the interests of this diverse district? 

I have been engaging with our Hispanic and Indian communities to get perspective on the needs of the communities. I will reach out to the African-American community. I have gone to city council meetings in the district to get an idea of their needs.

What is your position on the $1.1 billion Panther Island project and securing more federal funds for the project, given that the future island is in your district? 

I believe Kay Granger and Marc Veasey pledged $400+ million for bridge building to Panther Island. I have not kept up with the project. Private money also needs to be added in the mix.

Why are you the best candidate to represent Texas’ U.S. House District 33? 

I believe I am the best candidate for U.S. Congress Texas District 33 because I will protect our citizens from the invasion of 10 million illegal immigrants from 170+ countries, including over 370 on the terrorist watch list, at the southern border. Mr. Veasey wants just electronic surveillance and no wall.

Stop the printing of zero backed dollars, which is devastating our communities with high inflation. Closer to home, find ways to keep people in their homes by helping to lower the cost of borrowing for homes. These are just some of the ways I believe I would be the best candidate to represent the district in Congress.

Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at haley.samsel@fortworthreport.org.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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