Early voting is Oct. 13-30 for the Nov. 3 election. Among the races is Texas House of Representatives District 89, where incumbent Candy Noble, a Republican, will face Sugar Ray Ash, a Democrat, and Ed Kless, a Libertarian. Below are the answers to a questionnaire submitted to the candidates by Star Local Media. 

Sugar Ray Ash

Texas House, District 89

Democrat

Occupation: Tax attorney

Number of years you’ve lived in this district: 20-plus years

If elected in November, what would your top three priorities be?

1.   Eliminate cash bail and private prisons; legalize marijuana.

2.   Expand Medicaid in Texas.

3.   Continue with the improvements in school financing made by HB3; and with the solvency of the teacher pension fund made by SB12.

What is the biggest issue facing this district, and how would you help resolve it?

1.   Traffic on FM 544 and State Hwy 78 – I would improve roadways and support public transportation.

2.   Medicaid Expansion – I would propose that Texas legislature accept the $10 billion dollars that the federal government offers them for opting into the Affordable Care Act.

3.   Elimination of cash bail, private prisons and criminal penalty for small amounts of marijuana – support legislation to that end.

What are the biggest issues concerning the state’s public education funding system, and what are your ideas to help fix them?

  1. Early literacy for school children grades 1-4 – I support an “Early Childhood Reading Allotment” as in HB3
  2. Public School Funding is based upon “Average Daily Attendance” of students – I would base the funding upon “total enrollment” because overhead is still present even if student is absent.

Is more work needed for property tax reform? If so, what are your ideas?

There is always more work needed for property tax reform if you are the one paying the tax. HB3 increased the state’s share of the ISD taxes from 38% to 45%; I would propose that the State of Texas pay at least 50% since ISD taxes are the largest portion of a homeowner’s tax bill.

What would you suggest to help expand healthcare to Texans?

Texas should opt into the Affordable Care Act and thereby receive $10 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid availability to millions more Texans.

What are your ideas to help Texas recover from COVID-19, and what should the state do differently if another wave hits?

Texas should not try to open up “business as usual” until there is a safe vaccine. In the meanwhile, masks should be mandated and large crowd gatherings, like bars, and sports events should be prohibited. Also, Texas should offer tax credits to businesses who allow employees to work from home.

What changes to the state’s gun laws, if any, would you support?

  1. “Open-Carry” of hand guns should not be allowed as it is offensive to many people and potentially dangerous.
  2. “Serious” background checks should be done on all gun purchases, not just a cursory glance at a driver license.
  3. Weapons of mass destruction should not be allowed in the hands of civilians.

Ed Kless

Texas House, District 89

Libertarian

Occupation: Consultant

Number of years you’ve lived in this district: 17 years

If elected in November, what would your top three priorities be?

Limit the size and scope of government by looking to repeal unnecessary laws. As an example, many of the temporary orders issued by the governor are proof positive that these laws were unnecessary protectionism in the first place. They would be a good place to start. Next up would be looking to repeal any and all laws where this no specific identifiable victim.

What is the biggest issue facing this district, and how would you help resolve it?

The same issue as it is for every district, the overreach of government into our private lives. See my answer to the first question as to how.

What are the biggest issues concerning the state’s public education funding system, and what are your ideas to help fix them?

Funding of the system is not the problem. “The system” is the problem. We need educational freedom. The best way to do this would be to create a voucher program allowing the customers of “the system” (meaning the parents) a say in the allocation of funds. COVID-19 has made it clear that remote learning is possible and that smaller learning pods will lead to far better outcomes.

Is more work needed for property tax reform? If so, what are your ideas?

Yes, property should not be taxed at all. Usage fees would be far better to fund roads and other areas where the specific users of the benefits can be accurately assessed. To cover general expenses, a state sales tax of not more than 10 percent could be levied. The state must then live within its means, spending no more than it takes it. The role of the representative to best allocate those funds, not figure out ways to increase the funds.

What would you suggest to help expand healthcare to Texans?

Have Texas lead the way by increasing the work of the free market (not the current system BTW). Allow general practice doctors to more easily set up direct primary care practices. Increase the amount of HSA allowances. Allow Walmart, CVS and others to provide expanded health services including the sale of most anti biotics and other pharmaceuticals over the counter rather than by prescription.

What are your ideas to help Texas recover from COVID-19, and what should the state do differently if another wave hits?

No state mandated lockdowns or coerced masks. Allow private businesses to decide for themselves what is best for their customers. Mandating these causes more of a backlash and in the end only increases the spread of disease.

What changes to the state’s gun laws, if any, would you support?

I support full open Constitutional carry laws. In other words, we need to repeal laws already in place. This is the inverse of mask mandates. Allow private businesses to decide if they want to allow or not allow the open carry of weapon on their property.

Candy Noble

Texas House, District 89

Republican

Occupation: State Representative, Texas House District 89

Number of years you’ve lived in this district: 27

If elected in November, what would your top three priorities be?

Balancing the budget without raising taxes. Folks have had a hard-enough time these past few months without an added burden of additional taxes on their household budgets.

Cutting government red tape and eliminating unfunded mandates on our schools and businesses.

We should limit our testing requirements for our public schools to end of course exams. Our schools have been challenged to reinvent education, using online and in-person options and innovation. Teachers have double the workload as they teach and maintain new online classes and content and also have kids in their classrooms with different lesson plans and needs as well. As a state, we should reduce the state-required testing so teachers may concentrate their limited time with students to course content, and not preparing kids for a state-mandated test.

What is the biggest issue facing this district, and how would you help resolve it?

As of the date that I’m writing this response, the most prevalent issue we hear in our House District 89 office concerns our children returning to school in person or to online learning and the challenges of each of those options.  Our schools are currently ironing out the best way to educate in excellence and safety, and as we count down the days to being on the other side of COVID-19 most of those concerns and issues will fade.  The second biggest challenge we hear is from small businesses trying to survive and thrive during these crazy economic times.  I do all I can to help them navigate the state’s requirements and connect them to available resources.  Finally, we have worked with hundreds of unemployment insurance applicants to resolve issues with their claims and we have had great success in addressing their needs.

What are the biggest issues concerning the state’s public education funding system, and what are your ideas to help fix them?

I was a proud co-author of the historic House Bill 3 passed in the 86th Legislature. This bill made much needed historic changes in our school funding system, and encourages excellence in teaching in low performing schools. We are blessed in HD 89 with some of the best schools in the nation, and I work closely with the leadership in our local schools to improve legislation. I am hopeful that as the coronavirus pandemic comes to a close, that Texas’ businesses will rebound quickly so we know where we stand in respect to our available Texas budget. Only then can we evaluate the results of how the new funding system is working. Educating our next generation of Texans is a priority in our Texas Constitution and, as a former educator who still holds a teaching certificate, educating with excellence is also a personal priority of mine.

Is more work needed for property tax reform? If so, what are your ideas?

I was a proud co-author of SB2 which made historic changes to our property tax laws. Local governments can still raise the tax rate as high as they like, but they must now ask the voters in their jurisdiction for permission to do so. I am also proud of the transparency that was included in the bill. Citizens now can see the “no new revenue rate” and also the time and place that the tax rate decisions are being made on their behalf. As with all major bills, we will evaluate the results to see if further measures are needed.

What would you suggest to help expand healthcare to Texans?

I think it is more important than ever that we protect Medicare for those over 65 and for disabled Texans. We must expend our Medicaid funding only on Texans who are the most helpless among us. We must remember: access to health insurance is not the same as access to healthcare. Our goal is to have healthcare for those who cannot provide even the most basic of necessities for themselves, and are dependent on others for their care, and those over 65 who are now qualified for Medicare. It would be to all our advantage to encourage a free market system that would allow for more health care choices for more Texans, not narrowing the available options for Texans of every income level.  

What are your ideas to help Texas recover from COVID-19, and what should the state do differently if another wave hits?

I am encouraged by the trends we see in our Texas infection rate, and believe we are counting down the days to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic hold on our state. I am looking forward to that day. As the vaccines become available, and we are able to experience a “herd immunity” we can resume a sense of normalcy in Texas. We should look for every way possible to minimize government red tape to help Texas businesses get back on their feet. We should look at all the regulations that were waved during the pandemic to see if those requirements were necessary in the first place before reinstating them.  Finally, we should look for ways to cut government costs and expenditures so that our tax dollars are spent only on what is absolutely necessary during this time of budget shortfall.

What changes to the state’s gun laws, if any, would you support?

I fully support the Constitutional right guaranteed in the Second Amendment. I would not support any laws that would infringe on law abiding Texans’ ability to own firearms. 

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