As you know, there are two races on the November ballot for which Democratic precinct chairs will be selecting the nominee in August. One is for County Clerk, and the other is for HCDE Trustee Position 7, At Large. As a precinct chair and as a Democratic voter, I wanted to get to know the candidates running for the HCDE spot a little better, so I sent them a written Q&A, similar to the ones I send to judicial candidates. Under other circumstances I might try to do a regular interview, but given time and other constraints, I thought this was the best option. There are three candidates running that I know about (a fourth, Sonja Marrett, informed me that she had withdrawn from the race), and I have received responses from each to these questions. I’m printing their answers in the order I received them. Hope you find this useful.
1. Who are you and why are you running for this office?
My name is Obes Nwabara, and I’m running for HCDE Trustee because education is deeply personal for me. The reason for that actually starts long before I was born and far from here.
In late 60’s Nigeria, the Biafran War was ravaging the nation. My paternal grandfather, with a wife and five children, needed to get his family out of the country.
He was in luck, though, because of his position as a college professor at the University of Nigeria. The school — which had been started in conjunction with Michigan State University — made it possible for him to save his family from the war by sending them to the United States.
His youngest son went on to get his own education, get married, have three sons, and eventually move to Texas. The eldest of those three is me.
So, as you can see, without education I would not be here. While most of the personal stories of our students don’t include escaping a civil war, getting a quality education can mean the difference between life and death, between hope and despair, and that’s a lesson that has been passed down through the generations in my family.
2. What background or experience do you have with public education?
I’ve volunteered at schools to read to young students, and I’ve worked with organizations like LVEC (the Latino Voter Empowerment Coalition) to get public school students registered to vote.
And in my own life, I’ve been a public school student, including getting my bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston.
3. What experience have you had with the HCDE?
Since I’ve been running for this seat I’ve attended meetings and spoken with several sitting board trustees.
4. What would your top three priorities be as HCDE Trustee?
My top 3 priorities would be to:
1. Expand Head Start (HCDE’s pre-K program) throughout the county so more families can participate,
2. Increase the number of programs organized through CASE (the Center for Afterschool, Summer, and Enrichment) to ensure kids aren’t slipping through the cracks outside of the school day, and
3. Increase access to student therapy services so that more students have a safe place to express their feelings and learn how to deal with life’s challenges
5. What did you do to help Democrats win in 2018, and what are you doing to help Democrats win in 2020?
In 2018 I was a block walk captain for the Beto O’Rourke campaign in Dallas and I block walked for the Dallas County Democratic Party. What I remember most from that was the sense at each door that this might be the year, and one in particular stands out in my mind. I remember ringing a doorbell in an apartment complex and a woman answered the door. She was already supporting Beto but there was a feeling of hope in her eyes to vote for him that I’d never seen in Texas Democrats before. It was a feeling that said “we can do this!”
I’ve never forgotten that feeling and it continues to drive me to do whatever I can, wherever I can, to elect Democrats and turn this state blue. We can do this.
During the Beto campaign I was also a phone bank captain. Thus far this cycle, outside of running for office myself, I’ve written campaign letters and postcards for several campaigns, I’ve shared voting information on my social media, and I’ve advocated for Democratic candidates to win over their Republican opponents by joining and participating in several Harris County Democratic clubs.
6. Why should precinct chairs pick you to be the nominee and not one of your opponents?
Precinct chairs should pick me because I have the best platform for students in Harris County, I’m a committed Democrat, and in the last year since I started pursuing this nomination I’ve shown that I’m willing to put the time in anywhere I can to make sure that there’s someone advocating for the children of Harris County and the educational opportunities they ALL deserve.