Editor's note: This story was updated to include the chamber of commerce as a sponsor.

Candidates in the Republican primary races for Texas House District 15 and Montgomery County sheriff took part in a debate Feb. 8 facilitated by Community Impact, Woodlands Online and The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, one candidate in the race for Montgomery County Precinct 3 commissioner took part in the forum. Ritch Wheeler, formerly mayor of the city of Shenandoah, is challenging incumbent James Noack, who did not attend the forum, in the March 5 Republican primary.

What they’re saying

The District 15 candidates discussed topics, such as teacher raises and border security, in an hour-long forum. Skeeter Hubert, president of the Conroe ISD board of trustees, is challenging incumbent Steve Toth in the Republican primary.

On a question regarding the most recent session of the Texas Legislature and goals for the next session, the candidates brought up school funding and property taxes.

“The swing and the miss on giving our teachers the pay raises they deserve ... was hard to swallow and hard to understand how teachers were being held hostage for other things,” Hubert said. “We had a $48 billion surplus ... and a budget that was approved, and a ton of all other public employees received pay raises and teachers did not, which forced the school district to have to make a choice. The school districts had to say ... we want to recruit and retain and reward our teachers through pay raises ... and many had to adopt deficit budgets."

“As far as things I'd like to see us get done, I want to see us absolutely strengthen our property tax buydown," Toth said. "We spent $18 billion ... I'm on [the] Appropriations [Committee] this year, I pushed for $20 billion ... that led to a 15-cent cut. That 15-cent cut that you got in your property tax from [maintenance and operations costs] came directly from the state of Texas, which is what Brandon Creighton and I brought home for you.”

In a shorter session, Wheeler responded to questions and highlighted his experience in business and leadership, including military service. He said some of the issues affecting the area include crime, flooding and traffic.

Quote of note

Incumbent Rand Henderson is facing Wesley Doolittle and Kenton Ford in the Republican primary for Montgomery County sheriff.

After discussing topics, such as border security and violent crime, for about an hour, the three candidates described their motivation for running for the position.

“I felt like we were going in the wrong direction, and I truly want to make a difference,” Ford said. "... I want to do the right thing and make a big difference as a sitting sheriff. As a sitting sheriff, you have a loud voice; you can make a lot of change for the good by ... going after the things we need to go after. I would march all over this county and beyond our borders, to do that, to make a difference. To truly make a difference, mainly, it’s for the kids. We've got to talk to them; we've got to do right.”

“I’m a Texas Ranger, I want to be your sheriff,” Doolittle said. “I’ll honor the men and women in the sheriff’s office, if I give them all the tools, the training and, most importantly, the leadership they need to be successful. ... I’ll stand with them, in the middle of the night, the weekends. ... I’ll also work with all agencies and not alienate them from our office; I’ll embrace them ... and listen to them.”

“I’ve given my whole life and career to Montgomery County,” Henderson said. “ ... [My family is] invested in this community ... and it’s important to us that it remain safe. ... People keep moving here in droves. They aren’t moving here because it’s high in crime. They’re moving here because it’s a safe place, it’s an amazing place to raise a family, and that’s not by accident. ... I’ve worked hard to ensure your safety; I’d like to opportunity to continue.”