2020 U.S. Congressional District 17 Candidates


Build the Wall and a Brighter Future: Why I’m running for Congress

When something is broken, you fix it. If you need it, you build it. That’s what my dad taught me when he founded our family’s construction company nearly five decades ago.

So when I came back to Texas after serving as a Special Agent for the United States Secret Service, I was honored to take over the family business. At Jim Bland Construction in Waco, we’ve renovated and created homes for hundreds of families across Central Texas.

It was never just about building homes. It was about creating jobs and building a better community in a place that has given my family so much.

I’m no stranger to fighting for this community. As a board member for NeighborWorks and the former President of the Heart of Texas Builders Association, I’ve had the opportunity to help create affordable new housing in the Waco area. I’ve seen what it looks like to have businesses and community members come together to help lift families up instead of relying on government handouts that fall short.

Raising my two children here, I feel a responsibility to secure a strong future. Our educational system has done a disservice by teaching our kids their only path is a four-year college degree, when in reality, there’s a skills gap breeding other paths to success.

That’s why I’ve fought for more awareness and access to technical education. In 2016, I worked with the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy to create a Construction Sciences Academy that gives our students in the Waco area an opportunity to learn the construction industry.

I’ll work with President Trump to push back against socialists’ agenda and help American industries like manufacturing boom. And yes, as the owner of my family’s construction company, I will teach career politicians a thing or two about building a wall.

President Trump’s election reminded us why we need more conservative fighters in Washington with real world experience. I’ll bring the perspective of an outsider and a small business owner to get things done.

My dad always said when something has good bones, you build on that foundation.

Freedom, economic opportunity and the dream-big, work-hard mindset are what built this country. It’s the foundation that gave my family and generations of Americans everything. There’s nothing more worth fighting for.

I’m ready to defend our conservative values and way of life in Washington. I hope you’ll join me in building a brighter future for Texas.


Elianor Vessali, Republican candidate for Congressional District 17, is a dedicated conservative and community leader. Elianor holds a BS in Biomedical Science from Texas A&M University where she was a member of the Corps of Cadets – Company P-2. She also holds a JD from South Texas College of Law and is licensed to practice in the state of Texas. During her career, Elianor has worked as an attorney in the United States and abroad. She also worked as a public school teacher for almost a decade. Elianor feels a duty to give back to her community and is currently a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) helping neglected or abused children navigate the legal system.

Elianor and her parents are immigrants. Her father is Iranian, and her mother is French. Her parents first moved to the United States in the 1960s and started a business in Houston. In 1978, they emigrated permanently from Iran to escape the pending revolution and became naturalized American citizens in 1985. With this background, Elianor understands the dangers of socialism and the importance of limited government and personal freedom.

This immigrant status led to her heavy involvement in the Republican Party and in 2019, Elianor received the Haggerty-Richardson Fellowship. This Fellowship is awarded by the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) to highly qualified young professionals who currently participate in the conservative movement. The goal of CPI is to provide a platform to connect such citizen leaders with members of Congress, congressional staffers and scholars. CPI works to provide these leaders with the tools, tactics, resources, and strategies to help make them successful in advancing conservative policy solutions.

Devoted to her faith, Elianor proudly attends the same church she did as student, St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

Elianor is running because the stakes are too high for patriotic conservatives to sit on the sidelines. We have to take on the left and the Swamp TOGETHER, or liberty will become a thing of the past that we remember fondly, as opposed to something we can pass down to our children.

To learn more about Elianor visit her website: www.votevessali.com and follow her social media:


Twitter: @votevessali

Instagram: votevessali


Q: Why I'm running?

A: I'm running because I'm mad as hell at how dysfunctional our politics and government are.  I'm running because I have great solutions for the problems the country faces.  I am running because I want to ban money in politics, because MONEY IN POLITICS EQUALS CORRUPTION IN POLITICS.  I am a moderate; I am a centrist.  I want Republicans, conservatives, independents, Democrats, and liberals to vote for me.  In the real world, people from different political backgrounds agree on almost 70% of the issues.  In the real world, we regular people don't disagree or argue as much as they do on TV or in Congress.  I'm running because I believe in compromise, want to come up with solutions and good governance, and want to put COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY.

Top 3 priorities:

a. Education

  • I WANT THE STARTING PAY FOR TEACHERS TO BE $80,000 A YEAR.  Our education system is falling behind other countries.  We will never have the best education system if we do not attract and retain the best, highest-quality teachers, and we can only get the best if we actually pay them what they are worth.  We need to pay them $80,000 a year starting.  And, this will also help change the culture.  In other cultures and societies, education is valued, teachers are respected.  In the U.S. they’re not.  Paying teachers $80,000 per year will help change that paradigm to where people will respect the profession more, respect teachers more, and value education more.

b. Ban Money in Politics

  • I WANT TO BAN MONEY IN POLITICS.  Money in politics equals corruption in politics.  If we want to drain the swamp, if we want to have government working for people rather than special interests, if we want to have lower prescription drug prices, if we want a simpler, better tax code, if we want to have less government spending, we have to ban money in politics.

c. Economic Growth

  • I WANT TO IMPLEMENT MASSIVE INFRASTRUCTURE AND HIGH VALUE RESEARCH.  The American Society of civil engineers gave our infrastructure a grade of D plus.  Our airports suck, our bridges are a thousand years old, our drinking water in places is contaminated, our energy infrastructure and grid is outdated, and our roads are pathetic.  How is this acceptable?  How is this exceptional?  How can we have a growing economy when the backbone of commerce is broken?  Furthermore, infrastructure spending creates high paying jobs.  High paying jobs addresses income inequality as well as economic growth.
  • High value research creates industries and technology and jobs of the future.  Look at what happened when the U.S. invested in the space race:  new industries and jobs were created for decades and decades.  Look at what happened when the U.S. invested in the Internet:  new jobs and companies were created.
  • Also, to boost economic growth, I want to improve the education system, as I mentioned above, by paying teachers a starting salary of $80,000 per year.  It’s hard to get a good paying job if you don’t have the education or the skills to do the job.
  • Lastly, economic growth is directly correlated with population growth.  As countries get wealthier, their family size shrinks and population growth slows.  The best way to keep a high rate of population growth for any wealthy country is through immigration.  So, we should EMBRACE LEGAL IMMIGRATION.

To learn more about Ahmad visit his website:  ahmadforoffice.com



A proven conservative leader, Pete Sessions has combined hard work, innovative thinking, and common-sense principles to successfully serve Texas in Congress.

Born and raised in Waco, Pete attended Waco public schools until the ninth grade, playing sports, becoming an Eagle Scout, and throwing newspapers for the Waco Tribune – Herald.  Pete left Waco when his family moved to Washington D.C., where his father began his career at the Department of Justice.

After graduating from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, Pete joined the Southwestern Bell Telephone company, where he worked for 16 years, never missing a day of work and taking early retirement as District Manager, just prior to running for Congress.

Throughout his professional life, Pete has been very involved in community activities, serving in various leadership roles with the Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts of America, disability assistance and local conservation groups, as well as serving on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater for twelve years. Pete is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Waco, Texas.

In 1994, Pete ran for Congress by challenging liberal Democrat congressman John Bryant in a district that stretched from east Dallas to many counties now in the 17th Congressional District. Falling just shy of pulling off an upset, Pete ran again in 1996, winning that year and serving in Congress from 1997 to January of 2019.

While in Congress, Pete was part of the Republican House majority that balanced the federal budget four years in a row from 1998 to 2001. He led the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) as its Chairman from 2009 through 2012, directing the party to regain the House majority with a net 63-seat victory in 2010, which removed Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

In 2018, Democrats spent $10 million against Pete in a district that went dramatically for Beto O’Rourke over Ted Cruz, in a year that swept Nancy Pelosi back into office as House Speaker.

Returning to the private sector, Pete watched in amazement as Pelosi and her House Democrats openly adopted socialist policies.

While contemplating how he could help reverse the nation’s lurch to the left and the young generation’s fascination with socialism, Pete began receiving calls from conservative activists in Central Texas. They encouraged him to run for his hometown seat.

Pete and his wife Karen reside in Waco. Pete is the proud father of two sons and three stepsons. Bill is a graduate from Texas Tech Medical School with his wife Kayle, also a physician. They are in their medical residencies in Greenville, South Carolina. Alex is a special-needs young man, who is delighted to work for Home Depot. Conor proudly serves our country in the United States Navy and is deployed  overseas. Liam is a senior at Baylor University, and Nicholas is a first year student at Rollins College, where he is a member of the golf team.