Naked City

Frosh Rep Points Out Elephant in Living Room

Maybe it was freshman naïveté talking, but Rep. Mark Strama's brutally honest remarks last week about the political system in Texas drew appreciative applause from an audience of public policy enthusiasts. Strama, who joined other legislators for a panel discussion as part of the LBJ Future Forum series, said that when a political candidate's success is dependent on large contributions of, say, $250,000 from individual sources, "you have to do what they want you to do" – a remark that prompted some double takes from startled panelists. "You got how much?" Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, asked. The point is, Strama went on to say, the overall political process – from campaign finance to redistricting – is a real mess.

The Austin Democrat also criticized the redistricting process, calling for the creation of an independent commission to oversee the redrawing of district boundaries when the issue is taken up anew in 2011. (Fellow panelist and Austin Rep. Eddie Rodriguez said he intends to file such a bill.) An independent commission would replace the old-fashioned way of legislators redistricting themselves. "There is no worse way than to have politicians drawing their own districts," Strama said.

The District 50 legislator, who defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Jack Stick in a bruising and expensive contest in November, has also taken a campaign finance dig at his former opponent, filing legislation that would ban political fundraising in state buildings. Last year, Stick drew fire for hitting up insurance industry representatives for campaign contributions during a meeting in a state-owned office building. Stick later said he was just joking, but Strama's HB 906 would force politicians to take it outside.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Naked City

    Railroad Commission long overdue for name change

    Naked City

    Talon News scandal reaches all the way to Williamson County
  • Naked City

    A roundup of what to expect today at City Hall

    Naked City

    "Bait and switch" bill dismantles Clean Air Act, activists say

    Naked City

    Mock exam gets grown-ups involved in kids' study habits

    Naked City

    Recall petitioners look for a battle they can Wynn.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Amy Smith
The Work Matters
The Work Matters
A look back at some of our most impactful reporting

Sept. 3, 2021

Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Barbara Leaming's new biography makes the case that Jackie O suffered from PTSD

Nov. 28, 2014


Mark Strama, House Bill 906, Dan Gattis, Jack Stick, Eddie Rodriguez, Future Forum

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle