A newcomer to the political scene has a mission to shake up the Texas legislature and shift the state’s focus back to the people in the upcoming November election. 

Mineola native, Audrey Spanko, a Democrat, is campaigning for the Texas Senate District 1 seat currently held by Republican Senator Bryan Hughes. 

Spanko is a 32-year old Licensed Social Worker, practicing within that field for approximately 10 years. Having been given the opportunity to intern at the State Legislature during the last legislative session, she was finally able to connect the laws and policies she dealt with as a social worker to the processes necessary to bring those regulations into effect. She witnessed the human aspect of the political arena and knew soon after that she wanted to run for office. 

With the majority of political officials being business owners and attorneys, she felt it was time to have a more “typical” person in office, someone that could recognize the real-life struggles of her constituents having suffered most of them herself. “I think that we should have options when we go vote,” said Spanko, “I want to be an option that says I’m not taking corporate PAC dollars, we’re not taking any business interests, and it’s really gonna be about working for the people.” 

Spanko has spent the past year on the campaign trail, learning the ropes as she went. Campaigning during a global pandemic was an entirely new beast but she rose to the challenge, conducting numerous virtual town halls which opened her eyes to even more areas of needed reform. While Spanko has been a long-time proponent of the educational system, reformation of the healthcare system, an increase to the minimum wage rate, and the equalization of our basic human rights, she has added to her platform the notion that as a modern-day necessity, rural areas should have affordable, competitive access to broadband services.

“When schools went virtual, and as jobs go virtual, there’s got to be infrastructure there to support that,” she said. “In having lots of conversations with folks, I’m hearing ‘We just need more jobs, we need more industry to come.’ But who’s going to come bring business here if we haven’t invested in rural broadband? We need different industries to come, but the businesses need to have access to all of those services.” Referencing the closure of a handful of rural hospitals, she said, “Who’s going to bring in a business when they’re employees don’t even have access to healthcare?” 

Spanko, along with her campaign team, has challenged Sen. Hughes to debates in Longview on public education, Tyler on rural health care and Texas’ coronavirus response, and in Paris on jobs and wage disparities but has yet to receive a response. 

“Without some competition in our elections here in East Texas, folks have become really complacent, and they’re not working for us anymore. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”

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