Frisco Enterprise > News
Texas House GOP Candidates debate Saturday
By Elizabeth Knighten ,email@example.com
During the Frisco Tea Party's 2012 Frisco Candidate Forum, which was held at the Preston Ridge Campus of Collin College, Texas House candidates from districts 33, 70 and 88 participated in the event's debate.
The debate, which was moderated by Frisco City Councilman Jeff Cheney, began with Republican Texas House 33 candidates Jim Pruitt and Scott Turner.
Due to the voting lines, district 33 covers two counties, Rockwall and Collin County; Cheney asked the candidates how they would represent both counties equally.
Pruitt said he will make the same commitment that his representative, Texas House of Representative for district 89, Jodie Laubenberg has made.
"She has made that connection that she was going to represent both of us and she's done it well," Pruitt said. "I will make that same commitment to you, I don't care if you're in Frisco, Celina, or Farmersville or in South Rockwall County, and I'm going to represent this entire district."
Pruitt added that district 33 is important because it consists of land that has not been developed.
"This district is going to be one of the largest growing districts," Pruitt said, "and as far as population --we're probably going to double in our population in the next 10 years."
Turner said he feels that his campaign approach has shown the voters that he wants to be known, regardless of geographical length of the district.
"I drive over 700 miles a week and if you've seen the way this district has been drawn, then you would understand the geography and why it takes so much," Turner said. "[I] told the good people in Rockwall two or three weeks ago that, 'I told you that I was going to come over here to see you, so you can know me, know who I am, know what I'm about, know my strengths and my weaknesses, and I kept my word to them."
Turner also added that regardless of where the voters live, whether it is Celina, Anna, Frisco or Rockwall, he will represent them.
"I think the way that you campaign, the way that you set the standard during the campaign -- which we've done -- that's the way I'm going to represent," Turner said.
Cheney asked the candidates if the legislature "can or should" take action on undocumented Texans given the federal preemption under immigration law.
Turner said the state has worked to protect its homeowners and land owners near the border.
"There are laws that we have that need to be enforced," Turner said. "The catch and release law , it may sound good, but it's not working and it needs to be looked at ... I think that we need leaders who are willing to step up to the federal government and challenge them and hold them accountable to do their job to protect our borders."
He also added that illegal immigrants are also coming into the U.S. from Canada, not just Mexico.
Pruitt said a piece of legislation has passed in the state that can help police officers know if a driver is an illegal immigrant.
"To get your driver's license now, you have to show proof of immigration and your immigration status," Pruitt said. "How does that matter? Well, what it matters is those people now not only can't get a driver's license, they can't get insurance. If they're stopped by a police officer on the street, that police officer -- someone who doesn't have insurance and a driver's license -- they are going to be taken to jail."
Pruitt said a change that could be made to the system is for magistrates "consider immigration status when setting bonds," when illegal immigrants are sent to jail.
Republican and Texas House district 70 candidate, Bracy Wilson faced his questions alone because his opposing candidate, Republican Scott Sanford was not in attendance during the event.
According to Wilson's website, Cheney said, he [Wilson] opposes "all tax increases." Cheney asked Wilson what he would do to address the state's deficit.
"We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem and there are areas that we can turn to," Wilson said. " There's whole organizations and associations like Texas Conservative Coalition for their research institute, that recommended $20 billion worth of cuts last session, and that is not really paid attention to."
Cheney also asked Wilson if he opposed the rainy day fund and how it could be used appropriately.
"Its great name: the rainy day fund. That's what it's for, a rainy day," Wilson said. "I don't believe last session was a rainy day, it's just that we didn't have enough strong conservative, fiscal conservative leaders in Austin, who were willing to put their political campaign or future on the line and make the tough decisions about education, about Medicaid and doing what we can to fight the federal mandates that come down from Medicaid in Washington."
Wilson also added that the state is "spending more than what's coming in."
"We need a strong fiscal conservative that will not just vote conservative, but will go down and -- push around some people and say 'We've got to do the right thing' and that's what I want to do," Wilson said.
The last round of debates was held between Frisco City Councilman and Republican candidate for Texas House district 88, Pat Fallon and Republican opponent Amber Fulton.
With Frisco's school district growing so quickly, Cheney asked the candidates if Frisco tax payers should be "forced to send dollars to Austin for redistribution," while taxes continue to increase.
Fulton said she does not favor sending local tax payer money to various parts of the state.
"I think that's been a big problem with our school finance supposed solution that we've had recently," Fulton said. "There are better and more useful things that we could be doing. I believe the local tax payers deserve the opportunity to fund the type of educational system in their community that they choose to have, and if they're willing to support that, they should be able to do so."
Cheney asked Fulton how she would implement such a change.
"Well, the legislature, first of all is going to be forced to look at school finance," Fulton said. "I think we're now up to five pending lawsuits. At the legislative level, the ability to -- how the property tax collection should be distributed, will be decided in local entities like Frisco ISD or other school districts within Denton County will have the ability to spend their tax dollars as they see fit."
Fallon said that because the city has grown so fast it presents "certain unique challenges."
"If we're talking about local control, why is the money going to Austin and then come back here," Fallon said. "A lot of people aren't aware, when you start asking questions when you decide to run for office, that the bucket of money that you're paying on taxes, you would think it would stay here, you actually write your checks out to your school district for your property ... but then that money goes down to Austin and then the folks in Austin decide how to reallocate it."
Fallon said the cost of educating students varies per district.
"We have over 1,000 school districts, and yet the state has kind of forced a one size fits all approach and it doesn't really work," Fallon said.
He also noted that money spent locally, should remain local.
Cheney asked the candidates their long-term solution to the water issues that plague North Texans, like the possibility of a Stage 4 Water Restriction in Frisco.
Fallon said issue is "scary" because currently the city is in a Stage 3 Water Restriction.
"The long term solutions are of course more reservoirs," Fallon said. "It's not any one thing that's going to fix the drought problems ... we need to have reservoirs, but that takes 20-30 years to do. That's not going to be something that is going to be short term."
Fallon said the state needs to ask the federal government remove restrictions, so that Texas could purchase water.
"It's going to take a comprehensive approach," Fallon said. "It's not just going to be that one thing; it's going to be six or seven things. We all have to become aware because the more aware people are the easier a problem gets solved."
Fulton said that it will take "smart thinking" from residents "to conserve water."
"In The Colony, just a stone's throw away from the residents of Frisco, I haven't had barely the water restrictions that you have been under here," Fulton said. "So that to me speaks to more of a statewide plan that needs to be implemented and followed in order to allow everyone to have enough water available to them."