The only woman from Austin running for the U.S. House of Representatives shares her tips for how to best engage with politics.
By Deborah Lynn Blumberg, Photo by Courtney Runn
Julie Oliver wants every Texan to have quality, affordable health care. The Texas native has faced some of the system’s challenges head-on, first as a caretaker for her schoolteacher mother, who lived with a chronic disease, and then for her son, who was diagnosed with a heart condition and immune deficiency at age 5. Health care is one of Oliver’s passion points as she campaigns for a seat at the table in Washington, D.C., to represent Texas’ 25th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She’s also the only woman in Austin running for the position this year.
Oliver came from humble beginnings. She and her three siblings grew up poor in small-town Texas. The daughter of a single mom, she started working at age 15. At 17, she got pregnant, but still graduated a week after giving birth. She put herself through college and the University of Texas School of Law, and eventually made her way to St. David’s HealthCare, where she worked for the last 14 years reviewing contracts, leading audits and handling accounting and budgeting. She also started teaching yoga on the side.
In 2017, amid some efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Oliver felt a pull to get into politics. Since then, the wife and mom of four has traveled Texas, talking about immigration, climate change and gun control across her district’s 212 miles.
With her political run in full swing, Oliver offers up her top tips for how to best engage with politics.
Commit to doing something.
“I’ve been encouraging everybody I meet, if they feel that internal pull, to do something politically, whether it’s at the local, state or federal level. We need people with good sense, common sense and decency. If you feel it, go with it.”
Join a group
“You can find a political group for almost any interest, whether it’s the environment or health care. On Facebook, you’ll find lists. There are plenty of bipartisan groups; it doesn’t matter what your affiliation is. Find something you’re passionate about and go with it.”
Help out with a political campaign.
“Every campaign is looking for volunteers. If you have a talent or skill set, you can use those. It can be as simple as data entry or knocking on doors. There might be a city-council member you want to get behind. You can limit the amount of time you want to give.”
Educate yourself about the candidates.
“You can research candidates through the League of Women Voters website, or on each candidate’s website. Going to a place where a candidate is speaking is one of the best ways to get a feel for them. You can see whether you trust them, they’re sincere and their platform is achievable and attainable.”
Become an active voter.
“In the day and age we’re living in, we can’t sit on the sidelines. We need to become active voters. In Travis County, you can go to votetravis.com to find polling places and a sample ballot and see what precinct you’re in. When voting, I’d encourage people to go all the way down the ballot.”