The Oct. 22 forum was held by the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce and the Fulshear-Katy Area Chamber of Commerce at TaD’s restaurant, and five of the seven candidates were present.
These were Republicans Anna Allred, Gary Gates, Gary J. Hale and Tricia Krenek as well as Democrat Eliz Markowitz. Republican Clinton D. Purnell was on a business trip, so his wife gave his opening remarks. Sarah Laningham, also a Republican, did not attend.
Topics of the forum included discussions about local versus state control, infrastructure challenges, criminal justice and security in public education. To watch the entire forum, which was livestreamed, click here.
Early voting runs through Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5.
Local versus state control
Allred, Hale, Krenek and Markowitz agreed that the state legislature needs to revisit Senate Bill 2 to bring control back to local governments. SB 2 decreased property taxes for property owners while placing a 3.5% revenue cap on local governments.
Krenek pointed out the bill is complicated. She added that there is a dual need—providing property tax relief to property owners and providing enough funds so local governments, such as that of Fulshear, can provide public services, such as police and maintaining roads.
Gates said he was in favor of SB 2.
“I asked people, 'What is [your] main issue?' And let me tell you, the main issue that I heard … was property taxes—decrease in appraisals,” he said. “There is a need to have some sort of cap on revenue.”
All candidates agreed the biggest infrastructure challenge for District 28 is flood mitigation and drainage.
Allred said she supports building a flood tunnel, while Markowitz encouraged residents to vote for Fort Bend County’s $83 million flood bond referendum on the November ballot; Markowitz also pointed out that there need to be laws and regulations to help prevent improper contractors from taking advantage of residents who need home repairs.
Alred, Gates and Hale also discussed the importance of building roads in the district. Hale touted his experience building infrastructure in Bolivia and Houston.
Criminal justice and security
Allred and Krenek said improved security in Texas starts with strengthening the border with Mexico to stop drugs from crossing and human trafficking.
Gates, Hale and Markowitz said they supported decriminalizing certain drugs, such a marijuana, and minimizing minor infractions to reduce the number of people inside Texas’ prisons.
Allrad, Krenek and Markowitz pointed out that increasing access to educational opportunities and resources can also help prevent crime.
“If we can provide high-quality public education for every Texan, … we will eliminate a big part of our criminal justice problem,” Markowitz said. “People act out because they don’t have the education. They don’t have a job. If we can fix our education system, we know we will have higher quality of life.”
All the candidates spoke on the importance of taking care of teachers’ salaries and benefits and reinforcing the retirement system.
Krenek and Markowitz argued the state needs to contribute its fair share of funding to public education. Markowitz said she believes that the public education system is fundamentally broken and that House Bill 3—the state Legislature’s school finance reform—is not financially sustainable. She and Allred agreed standardized testing needs to be reevaluated.
Allred did not agree, however, that additional funding is needed to improve school outcomes. She proposed critical thinking skills should be taught to students and high-performing districts should share their ideas and practices with districts that are struggling.
“More money does not result in better education,” Allred said. “More money is not the answer.”
Editor's note: This story was updated to clarify Anna Allred's policy on education.