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Senate Candidate Beto O’Rourke Talks Politics with CPHS News

Courtesy of Jessica Mick

Courtesy of Jessica Mick

Jessica Mick

By Deana Trautz, Cedar Park High School

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As it hit halftime, former senior and executive producer of the Wolfcast, Jessica Mick, looked up from the sidelines to see a score of 7-27 at last year’s mid-October game against Georgetown. The team was off to a rough start, and the crowd, along with Mick’s camera crew showed it. Suddenly she got a call from her mom, who was working the Project Grad booth near the entrance to Gupton Stadium.

“There is someone here you need to meet,” Mick’s mom said with urgency through the phone.

She responded in confusion, asking her mom to clarify before speed walking across the large stadium. Cutting her off, Mick’s mom told her simply to “hurry up and get down here.” So she did. After all, she thought maybe it was an old friend who had graduated coming to surprise her.

Coming up on the booth, Mick began to see that standing with her mom and his campaign crew was Congressman Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, the now Democratic nominee running against Incumbent Republican, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Before O’Rourke became trending over social media as Cruz’s opponent, he was spending seven months visiting each of the 254 counties in Texas, getting to know the people and their concerns. On this mission, O’Rourke wound up in the Williamson County stadium.

“When I first walked up, I’m not sure I even knew who Beto was yet,” Mick said. “When I shook his hand and we started talking, I realized he was definitely someone important because he was incredibly professional. I was pretty stressed during the whole thing, but I had to keep my cool.” 

 

When Mick was summoned abruptly over the phone, her mom failed to mention that she would be doing an interview and would need equipment. She began desperately texting her camera crew, finally managing to reach her adviser, Anthony Garcia, who brought a student down there to film their interview. While she was quickly jotting down questions on her phone, O’Rourke tried to get to know Mick by asking about her plans after high school.

“He paid attention to what I had shared with him [and that made] me feel valued as a person,” Mick said. “I was really surprised when he mentioned it again during the interview, which meant not only was he listening, but he also remembered exactly what I said. I was just a 17-year-old in high school, so there was nothing that said he had to talk to me, but the fact that he did was really exciting.” 

When I see clips of him on the internet or on TV, he seems exactly like the O’Rourke I met last year,”

— Jessica Mick

In their interview, O’Rourke said that his main goal as Senator would be to treat everyone with the dignity they deserve, by ensuring that Texans can find jobs with a living wages, afford higher education and be able to “see a doctor or medical professional as a human right and not a function of luck.” As for DACA DREAMers (immigrants who came into the U.S. with their parents at a young age) he said that he wants to see them do well for themselves and for the benefit of Texas. 

“I want to make sure that we treat everyone with the dignity and respect that they deserve as our fellow Texans, as Americans and as human beings,” O’Rourke said. “This has been a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community, and to the state and the country that has been so good to me. This is a great chance to serve at a higher level for more people, including those with us tonight in Cedar Park at the football game.”

Comparing him with his now popular web and TV presence, Mick said that her interview with him gave her a good idea of how O’Rourke interacts with his potential constituents. 

“Talking to him was somewhat surreal because he is a very compelling speaker, and quite inspiring,” Mick said. “When I see clips of him on the internet or on TV, he seems exactly like the O’Rourke I met last year, before he was as well known as he is now. He is very personable, and I think he is that way with everyone.”

Being involved with journalism since seventh grade when she joined the middle school yearbook staff, Mick has done countless interviews. Out of her six years of being on multiple journalism staffs at once, she said that her interview with O’Rourke has to be her favorite.

“For one thing, it has been really exciting to see how far he has come since I met him,” Mick said. “At this time last year, when I told my friends about the experience, they had never heard of him. Now almost any Texan could tell you who he is.”

Since the night of Oct. 20, 2017, when she met O’Rourke, Mick said that it has been exciting to watch how important he has become to many Texan voters, whether it be seeing him on TV or spotting the common “Beto” sticker on her friends’ laptops. As a journalism major at the UT Austin, she said that scoring an interview like this was a great accomplishment. 

I think it is really important for politicians like him to be accessible like this,”

— Jessica Mick

“I don’t think I truly realized how significant the experience was until after we finished speaking,” Mick said. “And it hit me- I had just interviewed my first politician.”

As running into politicians is not particularly normal for Mick, she said that she appreciates O’Rourke involving himself in the community by visiting every Texas county.

“I think it is really important for politicians like him to be accessible like this,” Mick said. “When voters see that a candidate is actually a member of the community and really cares about the people within it, this changes their perspective on our government and our country.”

Mick plans to vote in the midterms, which will be her second election since turning 18. She said that seeing college students get excited about O’Rourke makes her expect a great turnout from young voters.

“Being able to talk to someone like Beto has made me all the more motivated to get out and vote,” Mick said. “I think his effort to meet so many constituents is really touching a lot of people and I am hopeful that this year’s race will get more people voting, especially in the midterm elections.”

As for O’Rourke, he said that voting is crucial for new voters who want their voices heard. Early voting began on Monday, Oct. 22 and will last until Friday, Nov. 2. Click here to find local early voting locations, which are typically open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The official midterm election day is Nov. 6.

“The things that I think about as a candidate and the things that I will work on as the next U.S. Senator are based in part on the interest of those who will vote in this next election,” O’Rourke said. “So if young people aren’t voting, the issues that they care most about- and it could be anything; it could be access to reproductive healthcare, it could be immigration, it could be drug control policy, it could be cost of education, the future of work, space exploration- whatever it is, if you are not voting, then you are not sharing with me what is on your mind, and that is missing from the debate, from the dialogue and from the things we get done in this country.”

Disclaimer: CPHS News reached out to Cruz last fall in an attempt to get an interview with the Republican nominee as well. No response has come back from Cruz.

This story was originally published on Wolfpack on October 23, 2018.

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