Editorial note: This is the eighth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <email@example.com>.
John Whitmire, State Senator
Texpatriate: What is your name?
JW: John Whitmire
T: How long have your held this post? What number term are you seeking?
JW: 31 years
T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
JW: State Representative 1973-1983
T: What is your political party?
T: Please describe a bill that you have introduced, which has later become law. What did it accomplish, what were its purposes? If no such bill exists, please do the same for an amendment.
JW: SB 344 created a writ of habeas corpus review and authorized relief of a conviction based on faulty or discredited scientific evidence. This new law has led to hundreds of reviews of cases and many overturned convictions and is the now the model for the nation.
T: Please describe a bill that you have introduced this past session of the Legislature. What did it accomplish, what were its purposes?
JW: SB 825 starts the statute of limitations on cases of prosecutorial misconduct to coincide with the release of the wrongfully convicted. This legislation was based on the wrongful conviction of Michael Morton and affords those wrongfully convicted additional time to pursue a case of prosecutorial misconduct.
T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
JW: Experience counts.
T: What role do you think a Texas Senator should have?
JW: Representing their constituents in Austin. Shaping public policy that benefits Texans. Giving a voice to those who don’t otherwise have one.
T: What is your opinion about the continued use (or non-use) of the 2/3rds rule in the Texas Senate?
JW: Strong defender of the Senate’s 2/3 rule.
T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
JW: Education – continue to fight for increased funding and equity in our public schools. Healthcare – promote increased funding for the elderly, disabled, and fragile and support efforts to expand Medicaid in Texas. Criminal Justice reform – continue to lead the fight to expand rehabilitation, treatment, and alternatives to prison. Successfully closed 3 prisons in Texas.