Yasmeen Khalifa • Managing Editor
A large banner flows down from the ceiling. People mill about, mingling and looking forward to the band at the head of the room. An anticipatory buzz gradually fills the space, blending with the music. The room is filled with a unique mix of people, including policemen, college students, political candidates and a rabbi.
They’re waiting for who they hope will be their next Texas House District 6 representative: UT Tyler senior political science student Julie Gobble. Gobble is running as a moderate Democrat.
To announce the launch of her candidacy, Gobble hosted a campaign kickoff party on Oct. 29 at the Martin Walker Law Firm with about 100 people in attendance.
Gobble was raised in a house with nine other siblings and a single mom. She and her family faced “tragedy and heartache,” but Gobble says it’s what made her the person she is today.
“It all contributed to me being a very well rounded young adult who wants to work harder than ever for this community,” Gobble said.
Fellow UT Tyler political science student Jacob McLeod recalls a specific moment when she began to contemplate running for a representative position.
“When Matt Schaefer had his tweets in September about gun control, it was a big thing nationwide,” McLeod said. “She spoke out against it. I think it’s important to have someone in Austin that will take action, and Julie really proved herself when that was going on.”
McLeod is referring to a controversial Twitter thread that received national attention and was written by current Texas House District 6 representative Matt Schaefer. Following the Midland-Odessa shooting that left eight dead and 19 wounded, Schaefer said that the shooting was the fault of “godless, depraved hearts” and that he’s saying “no” to gun control. The tweets went viral, garnering tens of thousands of responses, some agreeing with Schaefer’s statements and others criticizing them.
Gobble contributes her decision to run against Schaefer in part to her experience in the political science department at UT Tyler. Following the 2016 presidential election, Gobble saw “political tensions” on the rise and decided to switch her major to political science in 2017. She says she also began to support student activists who were working towards a future in which such tensions would no longer be the norm.
“Political science offered me a path to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to be an effective political leader and to enact real change in the communities of East Texas through policy focused on people and not PACs or private interests,” Gobble said in an email.
Since switching her major, she has worked on several local campaigns, including the Tyler School Board and City Council, along with campaigns for State House and U.S. Senate.
Gobble moved to East Texas 14 years ago and has lived in Tyler for the last five years. Over the course of her time in Tyler, she noticed several issues that were left unaddressed or unsolved.
Now, Gobble is working towards achieving a platform of her own that focuses on affordable healthcare and greater funding for public education. She cites East Texas’ high infant mortality rates, high suicide rates and underfunded schools that she says contribute to an “underlying belly of dysfunction.”
“While the current generation of Tylerites and East Texans are living well for the most part, there is a part of town and part of our society that is not,” Gobble said. “We’re also setting up our future generations to fail … I want to see a future of Tyler, Texas that is blooming and healthy and happy and is able to create generations of success.”
In order to solve these issues, Gobble plans on focusing money and research into expanding access to affordable healthcare. She says she also aims to fight to get “big pharma’s” involvement out of health insurance so that people can afford prescription drugs. Within that umbrella, Gobble is addressing funding for programs to meet the needs of those affected by the opioid crisis.
As for public education, Gobble says that every school district in the region is underfunded, particularly in comparison to the national average of per person spending.
“Compared to prisoners, we spend about almost $8,000 less on our students,” Gobble said. “So, we got to change our priorities.”
Gobble also says she cares about student issues, referencing her own dilemma with figuring out how to pay for student loans, afford healthcare and purchase a home in the future.
“I’m figuring out all these things next to them [students], but I’m doing it in such a way that I’m not only doing it for myself,” Gobble said. “I want to do it for all of them to make that process easier for all of us.”
Her website, Julie4Texas.com, also lists gun violence prevention, women’s reproductive rights, economic advancement, voting rights, environmental preservation and veteran care as key topics she hopes to address.
“We all want the same thing,” Julie said in her speech at the campaign kickoff. “Though we may get there in different ways, we all want a roof over our heads. We all want our kids to receive a quality and meaningful education that will send them on to be successful. We all want to have a living wage, to be able to go to the doctor and to be able to create a life for ourself that means something.”
Many resonated with this sentiment, offering cheers and claps.
Some, like Precinct 1 Constable Bobby Garmon, were in attendance simply because they hope to see a change in outlook.
“I think we’re having the same thing over and over by having the same person here, so she’s bringing new, fresh ideas,” Garmon said.
Texas Senate District 1 candidate Audrey Spanko says she came to the event to support individuals like herself who are “willing to step up for East Texas.”
Gobble says she and her team are going to campaign full-time from May to December of 2020 until there is a different representative in office that “loves and cares about this community.”
“I know what it’s like to not have someone to advocate for you at every level,” Gobble said in her speech. “And right now, it’s what we have with the government. The government should be by the people and for the people, and that’s what I want to achieve.”
Julie Gobble can reached at Julie@Julie4Texas.com and through social media.