Ballot Box With Hand Voting

Early voting is Oct. 13-30 for the Nov. 3 election. Among the races is Texas House of Representatives, District 65, where incumbent Michelle Beckley, a Democrat, will face Kronda Thimesch, a Republican. Below are the answers to a questionnaire submitted to the candidates by Star Local Media.

Michelle Beckley

Democrat

Texas House, District 65

Small Business Owner

Number of years you’ve lived in this district: Over 45 years

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

Michelle Beckley

Michelle Beckley

Expanding access to healthcare. Fully funding our public schools. Protecting our environment.

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

Limited access to healthcare and our high uninsured rate. The first step is expanding Medicaid in Texas. I have started drafting bills that will give small business owners and self employed people the option of, also, buying into Medicaid as other states have done.

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

Last cycle, the House drafted HB3 which fully funded the changes to the education bill permanently. Unfortunately, the Senate tried to make the bill a pseudo property tax bill instead. What we need to do is go back to the drawing board and go back to the original funding that was provided in the bill before it was stripped by the senate.

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

Yes, I fully supported doubling the homestead exemption, which would have given the average homeowner in the district double the saving in which they received. I refuse to make false promises on what we will be able to accomplish next session with the budget shortfalls that we are currently experiencing due to the complete mismanagement of the COVID-19 response by our GOP leadership.

What would you suggest to help expand healthcare to Texans?

First step is taking the Medicaid expansion.

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

The state should adhere to scientists and specialists, not Trump and take this way more seriously. As a small business owner that deals with clientele and inventory that is susceptible to airborne pathogens, I know how to implement procedures that can allow business to operate safely. We need to make sure that we can function and keep spread contained as much as possible in order to allow our commerce to continue.

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

Universal background checks for all gun sales closing all loopholes. There are many laws on the books currently that need to be written to allow better enforcement. We need to start at both those options first.

Kronda Thimesch 

Republican 

Business owner of Green Meadows Landscaping and Gardens To Go 

Number of years you’ve lived in this district: 30 

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

Kronda Thimesch 2020

Kronda Thimesch 

As a former school board trustee, I know that we must continue meaningful education reform which will be necessary in the next legislative session. We must improve upon transparency, oversight, and accountability in our school systems.  

As an advocate in the community who has worked directly with homeowners and community groups, I know the importance of reforming the property tax system and continuing the fight to cut property taxes. We need to ensure that families are not taxed out of their homes.  

We must prioritize jobs and the economy.  I have seen firsthand the impact of the pandemic on our local businesses as I have met with business owners to check in on them and ask how we can help them during this time. We need to focus on identifying areas where we can reduce regulations on Texas business owners in order to bring back our strong workforce and economy.

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

After talking with numerous individuals, I’ve found that the biggest challenge for our community members is that they’ve been hindered by the economic downturn of the pandemic. Business owners are struggling to pay their employees and pay their own business’s rent. Employees are getting laid off, and new graduates are having a difficult time finding employment. This doesn’t only have economic impacts though, as financial stress can oftentimes lead to depression and severe anxiety. This is an issue that needs to be met with immediate action, and the first step in this process is to reduce cumbersome and unnecessary regulations and barriers that hurt businesses and their employees.   

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

Current funding formulas do not allow for funding to be distributed equitably or fairly. These formulas are outdated, and need to be overhauled so we can more accurately pinpoint the funding that our schools need. With improved funding formulas, we can provide better resources for our teachers and our students. 

During the pandemic, at-home learning has spotlighted the issue that many students do not have access to the resources they need in order to complete their work. Our goal must always be to ensure that all of our students receive a quality education - and a limited ability to access the internet and technology should never get in the way of a student’s ability to achieve.  

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

Yes, and I will continue to work for reform of the property tax system in order to provide more property tax relief. 

One of the ways we can accomplish would be clarifying statute that says revenue and rate limits can be waived if an area is hit by a natural disaster.  This was meant to be a physical disaster like a hurricane, but some cities have said COVID is a disaster and are using this as a way to raise the tax rates above the maximum amount without a vote by the community.  

Another would be addressing the appraisal district process which impacts how much homeowners and business owners pay in taxes. The chief appraiser should be an elected position which would bring more accountability to the community for the process.  

What would you suggest to help expand healthcare to Texans?   

As a small business owner, I have experienced the rising cost of healthcare and know how these spiraling expenses erode family budgets.  We must continue to explore innovative solutions to lower healthcare costs which do not interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.  Texans should have additional options when purchasing medical insurance of their choice, such as being able to purchase across state lines, but this may require action at the federal level. 

Texas legislation preventing “Surprise Medical Billing” was an important step in preventing excessive medical charges without the patient’s knowledge; I support those changes and we should continue to explore further efficiencies of this kind. 

I support the Healthy Texas Women Plan, which provides resources for the health needs of low-income women such as exams, treatments and screening.

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

I first want to highlight the amazing way our community has rallied together during these challenging times to support each other and families in need.  Numerous individuals and organizations have stepped forward, demonstrating why we have some of the most selfless and charitable Texans right here in our own backyard. 

Our business communities have done a remarkable job leading the way on implementing and enforcing safe social distancing behavior, and we should be adopting those best practices across industries and workplaces for the benefit of all in our community. Americans know that we must take responsibility for our own actions. People want to get back to work, and the sooner we can minimize COVID by adhering to social distancing and other recommended safe practices the sooner we can get back to work and resume our normal lives.  

In the next session we need to address how public health reporting is done on a large scale in order to ensure accuracy at all levels from local to state to federal. Everyone needs to be on the same page making decisions, and that requires accurate data.  The entire state as Texas is too large and complex for a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing COVID-19.  

Regarding our school districts: parents deserve to know that their children are going to be safe on campus, as do the educators in the classrooms. If the Texas Education Agency intends to mandate how a public school district must respond to COVID-19, with regard to face-to-face instruction, then TEA should be earmarking funds to aid ISDs in fulfilling those mandates. Teachers and campus staff deserve a safe working environment, but the necessary PPE is not being made available to school districts as promised.  If an ISD is going to be held responsible for outcomes, they must be given the authority and funding to make the decisions needed to affect those outcomes.

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

As a former school board trustee and a mom who has parented four kids through our local public schools, ensuring the safety of our children and citizens has always been a priority.  We must make it a priority to address mental health as a community, and provide the appropriate resources to entities which serve those who may be at risk of committing self-harm or violence against others. Quite often, this will mean providing additional resources to counselors and police officers in schools, as it is often young offenders who first demonstrate the warning signs that will lead later to violent incidents with tragic casualties.  We should vigorously prosecute those who violate our gun laws, while respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens who practice responsible gun ownership.  

Follow us on Twitter!

@FMLeaderNews

Follow Chris Roark on Twitter!

@Reporter_Chris

Like us on Facebook!

TheLeaderNews

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
0
0
0
0
0

Recommended for you

Load comments