Meet the Candidate: Elisa Cardnell (Texas)

6 mins read

Candidate Name: Elisa Cardnell

What office are you running for?
TX02, US House of Representatives

With which party are you running for office?
Democratic Party

Election Date
November 3, 2020

Why are you running for office?
My name is Elisa Cardnell and I’m a Navy vet, single mom, and teacher running for Congress in TX-02 against Dan Crenshaw. Ever since I was born on an Army base, service has been a part of my identity. After 9/11 I joined the Navy ROTC at Rice and served 5 years active duty. After my deployment I developed a pre-existing condition, and stepped down from active duty to join the Reserves. I found my calling in the classroom and continued to serve my community as a teacher. But while I was teaching I watched as Republicans tried to take away healthcare coverage for pre-existing conditions and did nothing about soaring drug prices. I left the reserves in April of 2018 and didn’t know where to put all my energy. I saw numerous great female vets run and win, and thought that was something I could possibly do. But it wasn’t until election night in 2018 when I saw Dan Crenshaw, a far right Republican, run and win in my district with less than 53% of the vote. It was then that I knew I had to step up and serve again.

What is the biggest issue facing your community and how do you propose helping?
One of the largest issues facing both Houston, and communities across the country, is the prevalence of standardized testing in our education system. Right now we use tests written by private companies that are a better measure of socio-economic status instead of achievement. We then fund our schools based on these test scores and, as a result, end up underfunding low income, predominantly communities of color schools. This creates a vicious cycle that exacerbates inequality. We must end eliminate the remnants of No Child Left Behind. While a good intentioned policy, this over reliance on testing has hurt our students and our schools. Instead we must transition to an equitable system of school funding that helps to close the gap in school funding between schools in upper income communities and schools in low income communities.

How do we fix the partisan divide in our country and start working together again?
While we need leaders who are willing to work together to put country over party, we must also recognize that rampant partisanship isn’t an accident. We must make real structural changes to our democracy that will end the incentives to be overtly partisan. This starts with ending gerrymandering. The overwhelming majority of seats in Congress aren’t competitive. This means that those representatives don’t have to listen to all their voters to win re-election. They only need to speak to their base so they don’t get primaried. This is especially true among Republicans who have feared tea party primaries for a while now. As a result, these representatives are encouraged to be partisan and not to engage in a bipartisan faction. If we want to start to heal the partisan divide, it starts with ending gerrymandering.

Who is your hero?
My hero isn’t just one person. It’s everyone who has come out to protest, to register voters, to knock doors, to vote, and who have gotten engaged since 2016. From those at the climate strikes to the Women’s March to all the local events. Real power comes from individuals standing up and demanding change. Those everyday Americans who took time out of their day to get involved are the real heroes.

What are your hobbies?
The campaign trail doesn’t give you a lot of time for hobbies, but I enjoy spending time with my daughter. Whether it’s taking her to a softball game or just playing Mario Kart, she keeps me going every day.

What is the most recent book you read?
My most recent book is The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell. It’s about how little things can make a big difference.

Do you have any kids/pets/talking houseplants?
I have my 8 year old daughter, Tori, and two cats.

How can our readers get involved in your campaign?
You can get involved by going to and signing up to volunteer, joining an event, or chipping in. Our campaign is a grassroots campaign and we aren’t taking a dime of corporate PAC money. We’d love to have you on the team! You can also follow us @ElisaCardnell on Twitter and Elisa Cardnell for Congress on Facebook.

What question do you wish we’d asked, and what is your answer?
I wish you had asked what are the top three issues you are running on. I’m running for strong and safe schools, to fix our healthcare, and to get corporate money out of politics.

Candidate Social Media:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Post created from answers submitted by candidate to our Meet the Candidate survey.

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DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks, but are sustained solely on donations from grassroots supporters. Because our revenue isn’t click-driven, we don’t take in any direct revenue from the creative contributions of grassroots activists who post on the site. This sets us apart from other media sites. And we’re proud of that.

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