Pachyderm Forum

By Joe Starkey | January 29, 2006

The Pachyderm Club, formed of conservation Republicans, held a forum for the four Republican candidates for the District 71 seat on Tuesday, 24 January at the Wylie High School. The four candidates, in order of seating from left to right, were Kevin Christian, John Young, Susan King and John Young.{{more}} Each was given a set time to answer questions posed by moderator Paul Sorell. To maintain equity, the candidates rotated in being first and last to answer the questions.1. The State Supreme Court ruled property taxes for schools are unconstitutional. As a state representative, which taxes do you raise in lieu of the property tax and by how much? None of the candidates came out for raising taxes. . Christian stated any taxes had to be revenue neutral. Young flatly stated “no new taxes”. Young said she would not support taxes on specific professions. Beckham said property taxes must be lowered by at least 1/3rd with the bulk of new needs to come from sales or consumption taxes.2. Both President Bush and Governor Perry have supported teaching the concept of Intelligent Design alongside the theory of evolution. Tell us: What does the phrase “Intelligent Design” mean to you and explain why you support or oppose it being taught in Texas public school science courses. All of the candidates supported Intelligent Design being taught or discussed but none specifically supported it as a Science course. Young – supports but no additional funds should be provided for the teaching of intelligent design. King – the term is reprehensible but the concept needs to be discussed. Beckham – it means a higher power created us. Christian – God created the universe and our children deserve to listen to the discussion.3. Medicaid costs may soon outstrip the ability of Texas to fund the state’s share. Please explain how you would handle the Medicaid problem. Which other government services would you cut, or which taxes would you raise? If you prefer reform, tell us specifically how would you do it? King – the system is overburdened with bureaucracy. Beckham – will approach experts in the field for answers. The System can be changed to be more efficient and get more funds. Texas is not getting a share of the Federal funds proportionate to our population. Christian – the system “lost” $6 million last year. It needs to be cleaned up. Young – 20 years ago the Medicaid budget for Texas was under $20 million. It is now over $68 million but the population has not grown that much, only the bureaucracy and it and its waste need to be cut.4. Are you in favor of a state income tax? And please explain your rationale for or against. All were against. Beckham said to stay with consumption taxes. Christian quoted studies that show states WITHOUT state income taxes grow 1/3rd faster than those with. Young – “There we go again.” The lottery and other programs were designed to solve specific problems but the funds were diverted. We need to fix what is broken before adding a new level of taxes. King – No, but this has been in discussion a long time and we need to find a way to go.5. What is your position on abortion? All were pro life. Christian – none, period. Young – no abortion for birth control or family planning but how far do we let government go in deciding how private citizens live their life? King – not what anyone would choose but there should be exceptions for brutal rape or incest. Beckham – held his son who died of a miscarriage in the second trimester and asked how anyone could not believe that life started at conception.6. Many Texans believe illegal immigrants strain our social services and porous borders are a threat to national security. This is essentially a Federal function but as a state representative you could influence public opinion on the issue. Please explain what measures you support to make our borders secure. Young – We must protect from terrorists but should appreciate the value to the US of our neighbors. King – these illegal immigrants burden our health and school systems. We need more efficient and stronger patrols. Beckham – system broken and supports enforcing the current laws. Christian – Yesterday, there were people in Mexican Military uniforms protecting a drug shipment facing Texas law enforcement over drawn guns several miles inside the Texas border7. What is your position on embryonic stem cell research? King – We must explore the ramifications of the advantages of technilogical advances that save lives versus the moral implications. Beckham – completely opposed. Christian – Life begins at conception and it is wrong to end a life for research. Young – Supports as long as it does not destroy a life.8. How did you vote on Proposition 2 and why? All voted yes with King adding it is a “foundation of our Christian belief.”9. There are complaints that schools are “teaching to the Test” and not providing students with life skills needed to compete. What adjustments would you make to the curriculum and how would you measure student learning? All candidates ignored the question and addressed the issue as one of local control of schools.10. What reforms do you think Republicans must consider at the state level regarding lobbyists? None of the candidates gave specific reforms. Young – question asked when Republicans took control of national congress “Will Republicans change Washington or will Washington change the Republicans?” You must elect people you know and that you can trust. King – seconded that must elect ones you can trust and added we must allow grassroots voters to donate to candidates of their choice. Beckham – need limits on state giving similar to those on national candidates. Christian – stated he was the target of improper offers while Bob Hunter’s chief of staff and has the moral integrity needed for the office.11. Do you support or oppose school choice and vouchers? And why/why not? All basically support school vouchers. King – AISD used to charge a high tuition for out of area students but now uses the state credits. She is opposed to public vouchers for private schools unless there is accountability. Beckham – supports as state should not force children to stay in sub par schools. Christian – it’s about parents being able to make choices. Young – issue goes fundamentally to families being able to get their child a better deal. We send our money to Austin and should be able to take it back for the best education for our children.12. The CHIPS program provides health care to children whose families exceed the federal poverty limit by up to 200%. Should the government be providing these millions of dollars to families whose income exceeds the poverty limits? Please explain your answer. Beckham – All children deserve health care but there should be a means test for the level of support. Christian – Most of the ones that were cut are for reasons of fraud. The next level of ones that were removed from the program is the success story of other programs that got the level of family income about the cut off level. We need to cut the fraud and graft from the program. Young – Why are we providing insurance for people who are unwilling to provide for themselves? King – this reporter apologizes for missing her response while dealing with technical matters.13. Have you voted in each of the Republican primary elections since 2000 and if not, why not? Christian and King both stated definitely. Young stated he could not definitely say so because of the situation in Fisher county where basically all officials are elected in the Democratic primary and he had strong support for one of the judges there as a person and a judge. Beckham stated he did not vote in the 2004 primary as a protest against redistricting. However, “I was a Republican when being a Republican was not cool in Texas.”14. Houston School District announced a Merit Pay Plan for teachers. As a state representative, how would you attract and retain the best and brightest teachers? Young – We must pay teachers as the professionals that they are and like they deserve to be paid. King – Merit pay is a good idea but the pay as a whole is not at the levels it should be. Beckham – Teachers are the most important part of what society contributes to the upbringing of our citizens and we must increase their pay to retain and gain new teachers of excellent quality. Christian – There is no way to fully compensate them for the value they bring to our children. We must raise pay and quality of life across the board for teachers, and most importantly, let them alone to teach.15. Under what circumstances would you support the government taking a private owner’s land for public benefit and be as specific as possible? King – only for the greater good such as highways. Beckham – only if the local community voted to approve. There is no economic reason for government to take private property for private use. Christian – We must protect private property. Eminent domain is not the only danger as regulatory agencies are also using techniques that effectively take private property. Young – we must never take private property for economic development by a third party.All of the candidates stayed for at least an hour after the forum to talk to interested citizens. Mr. Winston Ohlhausen of the Pachyderm Club was pleased with the turnout of over 100 but felt that none of the candidates was truly as conservative as the Club would have wished. This reporter was disappointed that only 1 black man and a few Hispanics took the opportunity to listen to the candidates and have the opportunity to discuss issues with them face to face