Q&A: Two candidates square off in Republican primary race for Texas House District 135

Justin Ray and Merrilee Beazley are both running in the Republican primary election for Texas Representative in District 135.
Justin Ray and Merrilee Beazley are both running in the Republican primary election for Texas Representative in District 135.

Justin Ray and Merrilee Beazley are both running in the Republican primary election for Texas Representative in District 135.

Two candidates are facing off in the March 3 Republican primary election for Texas House District 135, which covers parts of Cy-Fair, Copperfield and Jersey Village.

The winner of the Republican primary election will be on the November ballot alongside incumbent Jon Rosenthal, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Early voting begins Feb. 18 and runs through Feb. 28. Election Day is March 3.

Justin Ray

Years in district: 27

If elected, I would change: our Republican messaging for a modern and growing Texas utilizing our timeless, common-sense values.


Why are you running to represent Texas House District 135?

House District 135 is my home. I grew up and went school is this community and it is where I am raising my family now. I served as an elected official for seven years and developed a heart for public service. I deeply understand and appreciate the challenges and opportunities in this community. I am running because I continue the embrace the calling of public service to make positive impacts on our schools, neighborhoods and families. I know my deep roots and public service experience will serve this district well in Austin.

How might you help prevent future flooding in the district?

Infrastructure programs are key to preventing future flooding. As Mayor of Jersey Village, I oversaw the development of a long-term flood mitigation program that resulted in over $6.5 million in flood infrastructure grants. My legislative priorities will involve identifying additional ways the State can participate as the local sponsor in critical FEMA infrastructure projects as our City did. I will also work to ensure that state agencies such as the Texas Water Development Board have the resources necessary to provide quick and efficient allocation of important flood infrastructure funds.

What is your biggest concern for the state’s public education system, and how do you plan to address it?

As a father of kids in the Cy-Fair school district and husband of a teacher, our public schools are an important priority. There are several important public education issues that need to be addressed concurrently. The State must identify revenue sources to continue the increased State funding portion. The STAAR test must be reevaluated to ensure the questions are age appropriate and an accurate reflection of student progress. Additionally, we must ensure our schools are safe, so we can educate the next generation of Texans to continue the Texas economic miracle.

What are your top priorities regarding the state’s property tax system?

In 2019 our Republican leaders passed a historic $11.6 billion public-school funding bill which included $5.1 billion in property tax relief. A top priority will be to maintain and increase the property tax relief Texans receive through increased state education funding. One strategy is to alter funding formulas to accurately reflect the needs of fast-growing school districts such as Cy-Fair which would further reduce school district reliance on property taxes. The broad goal is to identify State funding sources that reduce the school property tax burden while furthering Texas’s successful low-tax, pro-business climate.

Merrilee Rosene Beazley

Years in district: 40

If elected, I would change: I would reform education and access to mental health services to decrease homelessness, crime and improve our future resources.


Why are you running to represent Texas House District 135?

As the daughter of Depression parents, I believe in frugality and common sense. Over the years, I have seen that people know what is best for their families. Government should be effective and economical.

In 1979, I moved back to Texas and then to Jersey Village where I have lived for 40 years. My background of a Masters in Education and as a public health nurse since 1991 gives me the insight to address issues holistically. We must think long term to solve education and mental health problems versus a band-aid approach.

How might you help prevent future flooding in the district?

For those resources which must be built in flood prone areas, we must ensure green space to offset flooding and plan for better flood prevention throughout the State. This is an urgent situation and should be at the top of concerns to be addressed by our legislature.

What are your top priorities regarding the state’s property tax system?

I believe that the current property taxes are in line with inflation and helps support local governments, schools, water systems and law enforcement. I fully support the outcome of Senate Bill 2 by State Senator Paul Bettencourt, which has brought taxes to a 3.5 percent year annual revenue growth and allows local governments to increase with the votes of their constituents.

What is your biggest concern for the State’s public education system, and how do you plan to address it?

First, we need to listen to teachers and parents. I had three children in the public school system in Cy-Fair and I worked for HISD and a charter company as a school nurse. I know how school systems work. We need to focus our time and energy on Elementary Education in basic reading and math.

We should reduce student teacher ratios for small class sizes and NOT allow district waivers in order to stuff students in the classroom for money. We must put our money in elementary education so that our students are successful before they leave 5th grade. Statistically students who do not pass their third grade test are more likely to enter the prison system. We need spend our money early for success instead on building more prisons.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


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