(Editor's note: An earlier version of this article erred in stating candidate Brent Lawson's given name.)
The Grayson County Republican Women's organization held a luncheon and candidate forum in Downtown Sherman Friday, welcoming party voters, and local elected officials to learn about those vying for seats in the state senate and house of representatives and the chance to represent the county's constituents.
In attendance, were incumbent Craig Estes and challenger Pat Fallon in the race for 30th District state Senate and candidates Kevin Couch, Reggie Smith and Brent Lawson for the state House of Representatives's 62nd District. The candidates responded to written questions from the audience related to public school funding, Child Protective Services, taxes and more.
“This is really just an introduction and a chance for the people to meet their candidates,” Grayson County Republican Women's President Kathy Puckett said. “It's short, but hopefully they'll take time to visit with these candidates and learn a little bit more about them and what they're standing for.”
State Senate candidates were given the floor first. Candidate Craig Carter did not attend the forum.
Fallon introduced himself as the son of retired public school teachers and a business owner. He highlighted the “grass roots” nature of his campaign and his past legislative efforts in the house to ban sanctuary cities, fight illegal immigration and called for drug testing of welfare recipients.
“We will fight for the things we believe in here in Texas, which is God, our country, our community, free enterprise, personal responsibility and religious liberty,” Fallon said of his campaign. “Those are the values and that's why you're here today. I cannot wait to represent 14 counties, 45 chambers of commerce, 105 cities and 111 school districts in Austin. We can do so much better and with your help, we will do just that.”
Estes said it had been his privilege to represent the voters of this jurisdiction in the state senate for the last 16 years and touted his accomplishments and the leadership positions he held in that time.
“I've been a leader in the Senate,” Estes said. “I'm the second-most senior Republican senator. My chairmanship is natural resources and economic development — huge issues in Senate District 30 and all over the state. I've led on toughening the border with Texas assets. I've been chair of homeland security in the Senate. I've been tough and I've also billed the federal government each session to say. 'Hey, there's some money you owe us for defending our international border.' I'm strong pro-life with 100 percent credentials.”
The candidates for the House of Representatives rounded out the forum.
Kevin Couch, who co-owns a local marketing agency, said he wanted to curb illegal immigration and support public schools. The Denison native and former Sherman City Council member said he was proud of his work to help repeal the city's occupation tax.
“I'm a job creator,” Couch said. “I'm a common sense-approach business guy. In Texas, we used to be No. 1 in the United States for job creation and we've fallen to No. 4. We need to elect someone in Austin to bring the jobs back to Texas and create that opportunity.”
Local lawyer Reggie Smith proudly talked of his upbringing in Grayson County and his family's farming heritage. He pointed to major divisions within the Republican Party and said he intended to be a unifying and productive force.
“We've got to do something about our property taxes,” Smith said. “We've got to do something about our school finance system. We've sure as heck got to do something about securing that border. We've got to do something about imminent domain. There's a number of things that we have to take care of in Austin.”
Brent Lawson cited his career as an electrical engineer and his leadership on related projects and teams. Lawson said he too intended to reduce illegal immigration and said he wanted to move quickly in addressing long-standing issues related to school funding and teacher retirement.
“The excuses and the lack of action that we see from our politicians would never fly in the world that most of us have to live in,” Lawson said.” I have a real sense of urgency for the issues that I've laid out and I'm ready to go to Austin and fight for Grayson County.”
Grayson County's primary election will be held on March 6.