One of the hot legislative races to watch in North Texas this primary season is in Senate District 2.
State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) currently represents SD 2 in the Texas Legislature. The district encompasses part of Dallas and all of Delta, Fannin, Hopkins, Hunt, Kaufman, Rains, Rockwall, and Van Zandt counties.
State Rep. Cindy Burkett (R–Sunnyvale) is vacating her seat in the Texas House to challenge Hall in the March Republican primary. Hall is a popular conservative with strong grassroots support, while Burkett’s support comes mainly from moderate-to-liberal Republicans and the Austin lobby.
Hall and Burkett faced off in a forum last week in Mesquite, hosted by the Casa Linda Tea Party, First Ladies Republican Women, Keep Texas Red Forum, and Mesquite Republican Women’s Club. The candidates answered questions from both the host groups and audience members.
Below are highlights from Thursday’s question-and-answer session of some of the issues on which the two candidates differed:
Are you 100% against abortion, or are there conditions under which you’d support abortion?
Burkett: “I think that my pro-life record speaks for itself. In 2013, I joint-authored with Jodie Laubenberg HB 2 that outlawed abortion after 20 weeks… This last time around, I carried the other largest pro-life bill ever, SB 8… We had an amendment on that bill by Rep. Schaefer, we had the 20-week ban and there were only two exceptions to that 20-week ban. One was for the life of mother, the other one was for extreme fetal abnormalities where the baby would not live outside the womb… I think it needed to be addressed in the committee process… These are really tough decisions for those families. I hate to see it become a political football in this campaign. But I am a pro-life, effective legislator.”
Hall: “Either you are 100 percent pro-life or you aren’t. There is no in between… There are those who are pro-life and those who are political pro-life… Life begins at conception… We were made exactly as God wanted us to be… We have no business aborting under any circumstance except for the life of the mother.”
What is your position on Property Tax Reform?
Hall: “It’s about the number one question when we’re knocking on doors… This past session, we tried to get some property tax relief with a very good bill in both the regular and special session. That bill would have provided, not a property tax cap, but with a four percent increase it allowed the people to vote on whether they wanted an increase or not. It didn’t limit growth at all, but it did allow the people to partake in the decision. I supported that bill and co-authored the bill with Paul Bettencourt… it would’ve changed from what we have today, which is we have to go over eight percent – that’s a huge number – and only then can you petition to have an election… With the bill that we proposed, it would have put it on the ballot in November for the people to vote on… Giving the people a voice is the ultimate in local control.”
Burkett: “I agree this is one of the things I hear most. I would like us to see serious and meaningful tax relief. But the bills that were being considered did not include any kind of addressing of school taxes. About 60 percent of your bill for property taxes is for school taxes – until we address school funding in a meaningful way, we’re not going to see a big impact. I assume what you want is to see a difference in your pocketbook… I’d like to see us address unfunded mandates and issues of appraisals.”
What is your position on Toll Roads?
Burkett: “We do have a problem with funding for our roads… Do I like toll roads? No. But when I’ve talked with key folks, what I’ve heard is that if the toll road is a strategically managed lane, and if there’s an end in sight… this is a way that we pay for the road… I think what we need to look at is being very, very strategic… put some parameters around it… make sure that once it’s paid off, it’s done.”
Hall: “I am firmly opposed to toll roads. We do not need them… We can build roads in Texas that do not discriminate against the poor… If instead of trying to design our roads around having managed lanes or tolls, we designed around the money available, we could be building the roads that are needed in Texas… We do not need to continue building toll roads in Texas. We can do it without them.”
What is your position on Red Light Cameras?
Burkett: “Red light cameras are a struggle for everybody I think. I feel like that’s something we need to keep at the local level.”
Hall: “We absolutely need to put an end to red light cameras. They violate the Constitution.”
What are your thoughts on Speaker Straus receiving a vote of No Confidence from multiple county Republican executive committees?
Burkett: “I was kind of surprised he got a ‘no’ vote after he already decided not to run again. When you look at people like Blake Farenthold, who have actually done some very inappropriate things, I would love to see our SREC address that kind of issue.”
Hall: It was long overdue, especially after we had over 60 percent of the people in the Republican Party around Texas do the same thing with votes in their parties… thank goodness that person will not be there, and the power of his lieutenants will also be trimmed next session.”
Video of the full forum can be viewed on the Casa Linda Tea Party Facebook page.
Hall is a taxpayer champion who’s earned a career “A+” rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index based on his voting record in the last two legislative sessions. He’s also earned the support of grassroots conservatives in the district. His endorsements include Texans For Fiscal Responsibility, Texas Right to Life, Texas Homeschool Coalition, Texas Values, TURF, Grassroots America-We The People, Texas Eagle Forum, Young Conservatives of Texas, NFIB, the Family Research Council, the Texas Freedom Caucus, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Hall is a former Air Force officer and aerospace systems engineer.
Burkett has a career “F” rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index. Her score declined from a “B+” to an “F” over the four sessions she’s served in the Texas House, as her voting record became more aligned with that of Speaker Joe Straus. Burkett, a former Subway franchise owner/operator and realtor, is endorsed by several police and firefighters’ unions, Associated Republicans of Texas, Texas Alliance for Life, Texas Association of Business, TREPAC, Texas Hospital Association, Texas Medical Association, Texas Nurses Association, Manufacturers PAC of Texas, and Texas Wildlife Association, among others.
Burkett’s Senate run opens up her seat in House District 113, where Jonathan Boos is the current front-runner. Boos, a conservative activist and businessman, is facing Sunnyvale Mayor Jim Phaup and local businessman Charlie Lauersdorf in the upcoming Republican primary.
Early voting in the March 6 primary election begins on February 20.