Candidates Answer Two Key Questions Prior to Early Voting

Early voting begins October 13, and for many, the days leading up to that are when they work to get to know the candidates. This year, we’ve asked candidates in key races two questions:

  • What are three of the biggest issues you are hearing about from voters, and what is your plan to address them if you are elected?
  • If you are not elected, how will you help your community?

This month, we will delve into the candidates’ responses to the first question, and in November, we’ll show you their responses to the second. We’re providing an excerpt below, and you can see their full responses at peoplenewspapers.com.

What are three of the biggest issues you are hearing about from voters, and what is your plan to address them if you are elected?
U.S. House District 32

Colin Allred (incumbent, D): It has been the honor of my life to represent the 32nd District, where I was born and raised. I have made it my top priority to serve everyone in this district by working with both parties to deliver results. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished by putting North Texas ahead of politics, including opening the new Garland VA Medical Center which will serve 184,000 veterans and create 5,000 jobs, as well as passing a bipartisan trade deal with Mexico to support North Texas jobs.

I’ve delivered results for North Texas in my first term and it’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed me, citing my bipartisan work. The biggest issues we face are combatting COVID-19, lowering health care and prescription drug costs, and defending protections for folks with pre-existing conditions.

COVID-19 is by far the biggest immediate challenge our community faces. I helped pass bipartisan relief in the Cares Act and will continue to work to pass a bipartisan package that gets immediate economic relief to workers and small businesses as well as our local governments. I will keep fighting for resources to substantially ramp up testing, tracing and treatment so we can beat this virus.

No one should have to go without the health care or medicines they need, especially during this crisis. Since my first day in Congress, I’ve fought against this Administration’s harmful lawsuit, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety in federal court, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Health care should not be a partisan issue and I will work with anyone to lower costs and increase access across the board. I led the charge to pass legislation in the House that would stabilize health care markets and allow the negotiation of prescription drugs to lower prices for all Americans.

Genevieve Collins – R: From the conversations I’ve had with thousands of voters on the ground, the three most pressing issues facing our voters are education, healthcare, and our nation’s security. I’ve spent my career growing a Dallas-based education technology company, Istation, and working with every school district in TX-32 to learn firsthand the challenges facing our students, teachers, and parents. This rings especially true right now as we work to return our students to school whether virtually, in-person, or both, in the midst of a global pandemic. So, when I get to Congress, I’m going to work to eliminate high stakes testing and provide a new method for measuring a student’s success, encourage dual-language classrooms to create globally competitive future generations, and increase wrap-around services to provide a 360-degree support system to uplift children and families in low-income communities. Next, I’m going to keep Texans safe and healthy by improving access to quality and affordable healthcare. First things first, that means protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Always. I’m also going to promote telemedicine as a viable alternative to on-site care to lower costs and increase efficiency, hold insurance companies accountable for price and transparency to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and require healthcare plans to include centers of excellence in their provider network to ensure they have the right to compete and that patients have the right to choose the treatment that’s best for them. Lastly, I’m going to be tough on the Chinese Communist Party. I will not stand for their intellectual property theft, currency manipulation, unfair trade practices or hijacking of American manufacturing jobs. It’s time we invest in cybersecurity and hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their deceit, wrongdoing, and inability to contain a virus that has decimated American jobs and lives. In Congress, I will demand we put American, and Texan, interests first.

Jason Sigmon (I): There are only two – “I don’t know / I don’t care”: Reflection of most people feeling politics has failed them and their vote no longer matters. I’m running as an Independent to replace the two party system that has failed America. This was response that 95% of the people I met gave me. Healthcare: Break up big pharm companies, ban drug ads on TV, create low-cost community clinics, and regulate lower drug prices.

Texas House of Representatives District 108

Morgan Meyer (incumbent, R): Top of mind for most everyone right now is how we navigate and recover from the pandemic. Now more than ever, families and small businesses need leadership they can count on. Since March, I’ve personally helped hundreds of constituents impacted by COVID – from individual unemployment claims to small businesses needing assistance to hosting ZOOM calls to communicate with parents of public schoolchildren. Our community needs experienced leadership in Austin next session to make important decisions that will impact our quality of life – specifically in regard to education, jobs & growth and public safety. In the 2021 session, we must craft a smart state budget that protects education funding gains made during the 2019 legislative session even in the face of historic uncertainty in the state’s budget. It’s also critical that we create a robust plan to address job creation and growth to help heal our economy and lead Texas back to being the beacon of economic strength for our nation. And we must support public safety and law enforcement while leading for community-based solutions that will help combat root causes of crime and poverty. I’m also looking forward to continuing to lead the fight against human trafficking – this is a personal passion of mine, and I’ll continue to fight for as long as these horrendous crimes exist.

Joanna Cattanach (D): Fully funding public schools – Making sure the funds allotted in the last session through HB3 are fairly distributed and that we better address dyslexia services and make sure funds allotted to districts for increased services are actually going to increased services and not simply a general fund to cover budget gaps. Our special education populations need our support and now, more than ever, our public schools and public school teachers need responsible leaders in Austin. As an educator and public school parent endorsed by teachers associations and unions I take seriously this task and am committed to our students’ future.

Charting a responsible and science-based pathway for COVID-19 recovery and that is why our campaign has made the conscious effort to campaign contactless and responsibly, and we have shown publicly and often masks in our communications throughout the district. I fully support accurate contact tracing, timely data collection, and increased efforts to find a vaccine including those efforts and research being done here in Texas. We have a responsibility to open safely and that responsibility extends to the legislature and includes expansion of Medicaid to address the burgeoning health care crisis in Texas. 

Job growth and a planned economic recovery that focuses on small businesses and retraining efforts. It also needs to include the efforts already made by businesses to adapt to a new normal including such measures as margaritas to go. Our community colleges will also play a role in this recovery plan as more retraining efforts are needed to help workers adapt to new fields, new business models, and, most importantly, I will rely on our district’s input in this process. We have a spectrum of businesses from small retail to large corporate and the opportunity to have all stakeholders at the table matters to me and will matter to me in the state legislature.

Texas House of Representatives District 114

John Turner (incumbent, D): The issue I have been hearing about most is our response to the pandemic. Bringing the coronavirus under control is the key to so much: saving lives, reducing unemployment, reviving small businesses, going back to school in person safely, getting back to sports and community activities. With the pandemic still likely to be a major concern when the Legislature reconvenes in January, a top priority must be to take the measures that science and public health expertise tell us are necessary to stop the spread. This is the shortest and surest path to resuming normal life.

For the time being, we must focus on mask-wearing, limiting crowded indoor gatherings, and improving ventilation in buildings. When new cases can be brought down to a sufficiently low number, we must adequately test and trace to isolate and stop future outbreaks. We must continue to pursue tests that are more rapid but still reliable, advances in treatment options, and ultimately a safe, effective and well-distributed vaccine. In short, we must go on the offensive to beat this virus.

A second major issue that many ask about is our state budget. In the last session, I supported legislation for better school funding, property tax relief, and improved benefits for retired teachers. A priority for next session will be to continue this progress. We need to pass a responsible state budget that supports public and higher education, research, health care, public safety, and the infrastructure we need for economic growth. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I learned the budget process last session. I will be ready to do my part to support prudent uses of funds in what will be a challenging budget year.

A third issue I hear about often is the urgent need to recommit to our civic values as a nation. I am referring to values such as respect for the Constitution, accuracy in stating facts, appreciation for our independent press, a level of decency in our politics, an insistence on ethical behavior, and dedication to the principle of “liberty and justice for all.” An erosion of these commitments affects government at every level. If reelected, I will do my part to reject destructive and divisive approaches to politics, which we see all too often these days, and instead stand for greater decency and integrity in government.

Luisa del Rosal – R: Education: I want to ensure that our education dollars are invested in the classroom, and I want to protect education funding from potential budget cuts in response to the pandemic.

Recovery and Solutions in Healthcare: Texans deserve smart solutions to coverage such as allowing small business owners and associations to pool insurance coverage. Billing also needs to be made more transparent.

Property Tax Reform: Dallasites continue to have their home appraisals and property tax rates raised without experiencing the benefit of these hikes.

Dallas County Sheriff

Incumbent Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown (D) did not return her responses by press time. We will share them as soon as we receive them.

Chad Prda (R): The three biggest issues currently with Dallas County voters are the defund/defend the police movement, the constitutionality of local government and covid-19 as well as elections integrity. 
When discussing the defund/defend police movement, I would like to make it clear that I will never support a decrease in law enforcement when it comes to the safety of our community. I will however support integrating additional workforces within law enforcement to better serve our community. An example of this would be integrating mental health professionals within the jail system to ensure we better serve our community.

With the controversy caused by Covid-19, the necessity for a strong constitutional Sheriff has never been more evident. When elected I will ensure the constitutional rights of all citizens are upheld. I will place the rights of the people above politics, following the Constitution and the Texas Penal Code.

Concerns of voter integrity have been brought up numerous times. Currently, I am fighting alongside several citizens within Dallas County to ensure voter integrity for the upcoming election, by both educating voters, poll watchers and election judges on proper procedures, as well as consulting on several lawsuits currently in litigation involving election integrity. When elected I will continue to fight and ensure everyone’s vote is secure.

Dallas County Commissioner, District 1

Incumbent Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel (D) did not return her responses by press time. We will share them as soon as we receive them.

Patrick Harden (R): The number one issue is finances (Financial Uncertainty). The Orders from the Commissioners Court and the governor to close Texas have led to record setting unemployment. Families and business owners have been bleeding their savings, some have gone bankrupt, some have become homeless.

People are struggling and hurting. People are struggling to teach their children, struggling with mental health issues, struggling with dealing with riots, protesters, police brutality and dealing with death of love-ones and role models There has been a rise in the suicide rate, rise in domestic abuse, and crime. There is a correlation to these rises and the uncertainty of people’s finances.

More people and more people are returning to work and are now concerned with the sustainable of their jobs. The more Texas opens the more workers are needed and more people can get back to work. They have concerns of if we go back to lockdown again. Will I lose my job? Or, if we have a big Covid-19 spike will they get laid off.

It’s been six months of Covid-19 and I think the public has learned that Covid-19 is a part of life now. Today we have a better understanding of how and what needs to be done to function day to day. Businesses have done a terrific job of adjusting to our new environment and making their businesses as safe as possible under the guidelines and code standards required to be open.

In the past six months some hard lessons have been learned. As Commissioner, I will work to open Texas and keep Texas open. As Commissioner, as a last resort I would advocate cutting jobs to keep people working during these tough financial times. I think we need to re-evaluate our current condition on how we are dealing with Covid-19. I think we have learned some things about how we can minimize the risk of exposure, infection and control of this outbreak so we can keep Texas open.

The number two issue is property taxes.

This is like a continuation of number one. As I stated earlier more people are getting back to work and they are looking at their bills they pay and will have to pay. I have been asked will there be a Covid-19 forgiveness for property taxes. Property taxes make up more than 50% of the budget. It is an important source of revenue that pays for the residents of the county’s quality of life.

The County tax rate has been frozen at 24.31 cents per $100 valuation for over 8 years now. Homeowners have seen the cost of property tax increase. This begs the question, why is property tax bill increasing if the tax rate has been frozen. Part of the increase in property taxes can be attributed to the value of homes being sold, the appraisal value of homes based on the value of those homes sold in your area.

Covid-19 will affect tax revenue because of a decrease in sales tax revenue and property taxes. The ability to prioritize effectively and not misuse money will be invaluable and those are not traits this current Commissioners Court has demonstrated.

I have devised a Recovery Plan which consists of (1) prioritizing the allocation of tax dollars based on basic citizen service needs. (2) We should freeze non-essential capital projects. (i.e. road projects, building projects, park and open space projects) where possible until funds become available.

If necessary, as Commissioner I would (3) use parts of the cash reserves as needed to minimize the impact on taxpayers. Cash reserves are for emergencies and I believe Covid-19 qualifies as an emergency. As a last resort (4) cut departments that have minimum impact on service delivery.

The number three issue is crime. No matter what your political affiliation might be, the desire to live in a safe community is something we can all agree on. We have the wrong approach to addressing crime. We didn’t want to pay officers their pension now we have less officers. With less officers you want to defund the police. It has been over 7 years and we can’t get upgraded jail tracking software for criminal judges to set proper bail amounts, so criminals bond out and return to the streets. We have a DA who doesn’t want to prosecute low-level crimes up to $750, so people are set free when caught.

As Commissioner, I would consult with the sheriff where in the areas of crime can they assist other police departments like in the areas of theft, or drug busts, or drag racing, or street policing etc., and put together a plan. Then meet with the area police departments to get buy-in and coordinate our efforts. As Commissioner, I will work with the other Commissioners on procuring jail tracking software for our criminal judges and jail personnel, and I’ll advocate for change in the decriminalization of low-level crime with the DA’s office.

Follow all of our election coverage here.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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