Congressional candidate Danielle Pellet looks for ways to untangle political issues that will solve several problems at once
For most people, the issues facing the U.S. today seem as difficult as a Gordian knot. But Danielle Pellet says the trick to unraveling the knot is recognizing that seemingly unrelated ends are actually connected in the middle of it all.
Pellet is the transgender woman who hopes to unseat Pete Sessions next year and win the right to represent Texas 32nd District in Congress. She has already filed paperwork to form an exploratory committee, has created a campaign website and has a staff of “about a dozen people” helping her get her campaign in gear.
Pellet, who lives with her wife J.J. Larson in Richardson, understands that the fact that she is transgender will play a role in her campaign. But, she said, she doesn’t want anyone to vote for her or against her because of that. She wants voters to cast their ballots based on her stance on the issues.
“I’m not a token candidate,” Pellet said during a recent interview. She has very definite ideas on how to solve the dilemmas surrounding the most problematic issues — from immigration to funding Social Security, from stopping global warming to finding newer, greener forms of energy.
That’s where the Gordian Knot comes in.
“Look at the Gordian Knot. You can’t start in the middle and unravel it. It has to be untied from the ends,” Pellet said. Then she adds with a grin, “Ok, well, in the myth Alexander just sliced through the knot, which doesn’t work with my analogy.”
Actually though, it does. Pellet has ideas to cut through the B.S.
For example, how do you address the issue of undocumented immigrants and, at the same time, avoid cutting Social Security? Create a path to citizenship through which undocumented immigrants expand the tax base and pay into Social Security. It’s not some nebulous theory; Pellet has a very specific and detailed — and ultimately, workable — plan to make it happen.
“My family were immigrants as recently as two generations ago, and I refuse to turn others away due to racial or religious fears,” Pellet notes on her website. “Immigrants have enriched our society and we have been stronger together by embracing our melting-pot culture.”
Global warming is a fact, Pellet said, and this country has to come up with a plan to address it and remedies for it’s effects, including drought that is plaguing portions of the country. One idea, she said, is to build desalination plants on the east and west coasts, then use pipelines to deliver the potable water to drought-stricken areas inland.
As an added bonus, building and operating the desalination plants and the pipelines, Pellet said, creates jobs. With more people employed, there will be fewer people receiving federal benefits, and more money circulating through the economy.
While “conservative” candidates tend to demonize those receiving “welfare,” Pellet says the answer is to create not just jobs, but to create income equality.
“If you want people off food stamps, then pay them a living wage,” she said. “I’ve played Monopoly, and I’ve seen how it ends. As you go around the board, it gets more and more expensive to ‘live.’ But you still only get $200 for passing Go.”
She advocates for raising the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour by 2024, and for abolishing sub-miminum wages, including tipped wages and wages paid to disabled people.
Pellet advocates for “getting off foreign oil,” not just because fossil fuels put the U.S. in a position of funding foreign powers that sponsor terrorism, but also because “burning hydrocarbons is bad for the environment.” But she is quick to note that she isn’t “just some environmentalist liberal hippy” out hugging trees; she also believes that the best way to replace fossil fuels is with thorium energy, a reactor-based nuclear power with low radio-toxicity waste.
Pellet doesn’t just throw out a bunch of scientific terms to dazzle folks, hoping that someone else will come along to find a way to make it work. She graduated from the University of North Texas with degrees in sociology and forensic chemistry and worked as a teaching assistant in the criminalistics lab courses. Now, she works as a chemist.
Pellet said that she was 6 years old when she first “picked out my middle name,” Jessica. But it was 2004 and she was in the Air Force ROTC at UNT and “two months away from field time” when she finally decided to come out as transgender.
The Air Force stresses “integrity first,” Pellet said, and keeping her gender identity a secret was creating “horrible conflict. … I walked away from a career as a pilot. I just couldn’t” stay silent and hidden.
Pellet also wants voters to know that while she has never held public office — this is, in fact, her first campaign — this isn’t her first foray into politics. Last year, she served as a delegate first to the Texas state Democratic Convention and then to the Democratic National Convention. And at the state convention, she used direct democracy tactics to “accomplish the impossible” and get three planks approved in the state party platform without going through the platform committee.
The planks, she said, 1. build on Hillary Clinton’s clean energy challenge and turn it into a “New Deal-type program;” 2. stop corporate lobbyists from being super delegates, and 3. bring back money hidden in overseas tax shelters.
Pellet was founding president of the first transgender student organization at a Texas university, and later on worked with the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and the Progressive Alliance. She stressed that she is committed not only to her on campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives, but also to getting progressive candidates elected across the board. To that end, she’s developing a free canvassing app she calls Prometheus, which will help activists and campaigns engage at the grassroots level.
For more information visit Pellet’s campaign website, DaniForCongress.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 17, 2017.