Former UTPA prof gearing up for Congressional Dem Primary
By: Cindy Jaimez
UTPA graduate and former lecturer Jane Cross is running against incumbent Rep. Ruben Hinojosa and opponents Ruben Ramon Ramirez and David Cantu in the April 3 Democratic primary for U.S. Congressional District 15.
She confirmed her candidacy for Congress Nov. 28 at a McAllen Democratic event. She said her political interest sprouted in the ‘80s and a few years back joined Get Out of Our House (GOOOH), a movement to oust career politicians from the U.S. House of Representatives; she was then selected to be a candidate by GOOOH.
“People go in there and get comfortable and that’s when they think they’re entitled,” Cross said. “It’s just like when you’re with a really good teacher that knows you really well. You don’t have to be quite as bright or you don’t have to be as good as in the beginning.”
Cross started at the Pan American University in the spring of 1974 and later served as communication lecturer during the early 1990s.
“If anything, UTPA has helped me with communicating because you have to communicate with people,” Cross said. “And if you’re a good communicator, you have to be a good listener.”
Cross plans to focus on intensifying border security, expanding the oil and gas industry to boost the economy, and regulating the welfare system, as well as reforming immigration and supplementing existing education.
She wants to use troops who come back from the Middle East for border security.
“Soldiers are already trained in security,” she said. “You can make them part of national security.”
Cross’ stance on immigration is that it should be easier for people to get work visas.
“I know a lot of second- or third-generation people that don’t even get up to mow the lawn,” she said. “They’re not going to do it, won’t do it. People don’t want to work.”
In regard to education, she suggested increasing the amount of trade schools for those who are not as “prepared” for college since the United States is decreasing in trade production, according to Cross.
“There are some people who aren’t cut out for college,” she said. “We’re losing our trade. We’re losing our carpenters, yielders, and air-conditioning and plumbing people.”
Cross advocates promoting the oil and gas industry to provide jobs and mentioned taxing everyone, even if it is one percent or the poor.
“If you don’t pay for something sometimes, you don’t appreciate it,” she said. “The economy and everybody can cut five percent off any budget. Any budget.”
Cross also said the welfare system needs more regulation.
“Something’s wrong with the system,” she said. “People are angry. There needs to be more checks and balances. Just go to H-E-B and see people in Cadillacs that receive $2,500 in welfare while others with $1,200 don’t.”
She gives credit to her communication background for the candidacy process and relies on word-of-mouth to promote herself. Cross said she does not fundraise much for the campaign, relying on small donations from friends and family. She’s been using some of her savings as well.
“If anybody gives big donations, chances are they’re going to want something in return,” Cross said. “I don’t want to go up there owing something.”
Cross also shared her campaign goal.
“Our strategy is to beat the incumbent and their party,” she said. “My goal when elected is to be heard and to stand up for my constituents.”
Cross said that she’s been receiving positive feedback from the public in response to her candidacy. As the only woman running, she considers her gender as an advantage.
“I feel like I have a really good chance of winning voters because women like to vote,” she said. “I’m just humbled by people being so supportive.”
Bronc Radio and TV adviser Frederick Mann said he has known her for several years as a faculty colleague and station supporter.
“As far as I know, no special interest groups have her in their grasp,” he said. “She has her own money and is very outspoken. She is not afraid of anybody or anything. I look forward to the campaign this fall…it should be very interesting with her race against Hinojosa.”
In the end, though, Cross said she loves teaching and doesn’t plan on not staying in Congress too long.
“Believe me, I’m going to be back,” she said. “I’m not going to die in office. I want to go serve my term, three, five, six years, pick something and then go home.”