Candidate Q&A – Erin Zwiener – State Representative

What’s your favorite place in Hays County?

Every community in my district has its own unique highlights. I love visiting the giant sycamores at Spring Lake in San Marcos, exploring Onion Creek in Driftwood, dining in downtown Buda, and taking my daughter to see the balloons at Lake Kyle.

But my favorite place is always the front door of a first-time voter who I’ve just registered. I love that I represent a district where there are so many opportunities to engage new voters.

What’s your history of supporting Democratic organizations prior to your run for office?

I knocked on doors for Barack Obama and made phone calls for Hillary Clinton. Before my first race, I also phonebanked and blockwalked for Democrats running for school board and city council here in Hays County and for the Buda ballot proposition to establish single member districts, a change that empowered more eastside representation on city council.

I was a lead organizer for the 2016 electoral college demonstration at the Texas Capitol where over 1000 Texans asked the Texas electors to not support Trump. I also coordinated an Indivisible Townhall to put pressure on Congressman Roger Williams to hold Trump accountable.

Working with Democrats in Hays County and helping build the local volunteer base has been one of the great privileges of my life. I’m so proud to be a part of turning Hays County blue. Now we must turn Texas blue!

Have you ever donated and/or voted for a Republican? If so, why and to whom?


How do you feel about abortion access? How will you support women on this issue?

Abortion is healthcare, and current leadership in Texas has absolutely decimated access to abortion in Texas. I will fight next session to at the very least create exceptions for victims of rape or incest, fetuses that are incompatible with life, or the health and safety of the pregnant person. I’ve also filed legislation to protect medical records about pregnancy loss from being used in litigation or prosecution (such as the Harris County case where a man sued his ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her get an abortion). I’ve used my knowledge of the rules to stop bad amendments on the House floor that would have penalized employers who fund employees traveling out of the state for abortion care. I’m proud to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Texas and will continue fighting for reproductive justice as long as I’m in office.

What is your biggest liability or weakness as a candidate, and what is your response to people who may hold that against you?

I will always choose good governance over optics, and that can sometimes be a liability. For example, during the last regular legislative session, the City of Buda was entering a conflict with the Milestone development in Buda. Some constituents asked me to speak out on the matter. However, after strategizing with members of the city council and with city staff, we agreed that the developer might seek to create a new Municipal Use District (MUD) through legislation, effectively sidestepping the city. I monitored every potential legislative vehicle for that MUD and didn’t speak out about the development, so that I’d keep the element of surprise and have a better chance of stopping the MUD’s creation. I also used my relationships with members of Austin City Council to discourage them from helping the developer avoid working with Buda.

I took some heat for not being outspoken earlier about the development, but I knew it was the right choice to give the City of Buda the best negotiating power with the developer. I stand by my decision to prioritize effectiveness over optics.

Why are you running for this office?

Whether I am in elected office or not, I know that I will be working toward the greater good. I am running for reelection, because on so many issues I am effective at both furthering good and preventing harm.

The work I am most proud of right now is founding and leading the Texas Energy and Climate Caucus. In just over two years we grew to 56 members, both Republicans and Democrats, and are leading the charge to bring more innovative, low-carbon energy to Texas and to fight climate change.

Folks often ask what I’m planning to do next and whether I’m going to run for another office. Right now my job is nurturing this caucus, the first ever environmental caucus in the Texas Legislature. I won’t consider leaving the legislature until I know the caucus is ready to thrive without me.

How will you ensure adequate funding and support for Texas public schools?

Throughout the entirety of 2023 I fought against bills and amendments on the House floor that would have steered public dollars away from public schools. I will continue to fight to protect our public dollars from voucher scams. Further, I was proud to support legislation in 2019 that increased public school funding by $11 billion - a 3% increase in funding at the time. That legislation included dedicated funding for teacher pay raises, and I amended the state budget to protect those raises in 2021.

Unfortunately, Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick are now holding school funding hostage for their voucher scams, and funding is not keeping up with costs. I will continue to push for increases in public education funding, fighting to make the state pay its fair share, and work to ensure Republicans don’t hijack that important conversation with fights over made-up, hot button political issues like book bans.

What are the largest unmet needs for district 45 and how will you as a single representative advocate for those needs?

Rapid growth is the elephant in the room in every Hays County policy conversation. The growth is fueling strains on our natural resources, challenges to our transportation and other infrastructure, and rapidly changing our way of life. The Texas GOP has been attacking local control, but I’ve been able to use my knowledge of the rules to protect Hays County from some of these attacks. I’m also working with a partisan group of legislators who represent fast-growth districts. We are working to give our communities more tools to manage development and shift the balance of power back toward the local governments.

Zwiener Headshot

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