Q&A: Get to know the Republican candidates for Texas House District 18 ahead of March primaries

Four candidates are running for the Republican nomination for Texas House District 18 in the March 1 primary election. (Courtesy Unsplash)
Four candidates are running for the Republican nomination for Texas House District 18 in the March 1 primary election. (Courtesy Unsplash)

Four candidates are running for the Republican nomination for Texas House District 18 in the March 1 primary election. (Courtesy Unsplash)

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(Courtesy Ernest Bailes)
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(Courtesy Stephen A. Missick)
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(Courtesy Janis Holt)
Four candidates are vying for the Republican nomination for Texas House of Representatives District 18 in the upcoming March primaries. No Democrats filed to run in their party’s primary election.

The winners for each party in the March primaries will determine which candidates will be on the ballot in the November general election. Candidate responses may have been edited for length and clarity.

*Indicates incumbent

Ernest Bailes*

Occupation: rancher, self-employed

Relevant experience: served three terms as the state representative for House District 18; founded and operate a small business doing whitetail deer reproductive work in East Texas

Candidate phone number: 281-806-4336

Candidate website: www.bailesfortexas.com

Janis Holt

Occupation: business owner

Relevant experience: nearly 20 years of grassroots activism through the GOP

Candidate phone number: 409-209-2057

Candidate website: www.holtfortexas.com

Stephen A. Missick

Occupation: pastor, educator and military chaplain

Relevant experience: military veteran with two combat tours to Iraq, three years serving on the border with the military, author and independent filmmaker

Candidate phone number: 281-972-5878

Candidate website: www.facebook.com/drstephenamissick

Ronnie Tullos

Candidate did not submit responses as of press time


Q: What inspired you to run for this office, and what qualifications do you possess?

Bailes: When I first decided to run for this office, I was motivated by the opportunity to give my friends and neighbors a voice in Austin, an opportunity to be represented by someone who grew up in their community and understands their challenges. The number of rural seats in Austin are shrinking, and it is important that we continue to elect members who will fight for these values and for the work ethic that this area represents.

Holt: I decided to run for House District 18 because my experience as a grassroots activist and my dedication to strong conservative values will best represent the citizens of House District 18. I am not someone who just puts conservative on their website or a business card. I have been fighting for those values all my life and actively within the GOP for almost 20 years. My values run deep, and my decisions have been, and will be, based on those core convictions.

Missick: I am deeply concerned about the multiple problems that our nation is now facing, especially economic problems due to inflation. I believe it is important for socially conservative evangelical Christians like myself to engage the system to find better solutions for all Americans to the problems that we are facing. I was inspired to run for office when I was working to change the lower Rio Grande Valley from blue to red with friends I made down there while I worked on the border mission with the National Guard.

Tullos: Candidate did not submit responses as of press time

Q: What would be your top priorities if elected?

: My top priority has always been to be responsive and available to my constituents. Further, there are issues that are especially important to my constituents that I’ve been proud to work on, but the fight is never over; protecting private property rights, strides for rural broadband, supporting our rural and fast-growing school districts, defending agriculture interests, fighting for our small businesses, to name a few.

Holt: A few of my top priorities will be election integrity, pro-life issues, education issues and property taxes.

Missick: There are multiple issues facing our nation. We need to work on border security and election integrity. We also need to make sure critical race theory, and other leftist ideologies aren’t being indoctrinated into our children in our public schools. I am pro-life and pro-liberty. We need to ensure that our religious liberties and freedom of speech are protected. Religious liberties have been eroded during the coronavirus pandemic, and it is important to work to restore our constitutional liberties.

Tullos: Candidate did not submit responses as of press time

Q: What are the biggest challenges now facing residents in District 18, and how do you plan to address them?

: At the state level, it’s certainly no secret that high property taxes are plaguing House District 18. While I was able to support several measures this past session, we weren’t able to get them all across the finish line. This will continue to be a major push during the 88th legislative session. I am willing to explore all options to combat this growing concern.

Holt: House District 18 is a diverse district, but the citizens want less government and more freedom. A couple of areas of interest are the increase of population on the western side of the district and housing and community challenges that are resulting from that growth. Everything must be done to make sure that these communities are being built to code and have the access to city and/or county services. Another area of interest is the placing of a landfill in an area that can affect our water systems. More time for citizen input and surveys must be done to address this placement.

Missick: Property taxes are too high, and the rates need to be brought down. We need to create new economic opportunities in our community. I believe that our schools need a renewed focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). I also believe that the Bible as literature should be made available in all schools as an elective. We cannot ignore the problems of homelessness and drug addiction that are spreading throughout our communities. We need compassionate programs and also law enforcement to respond to these issues.

Tullos: Candidate did not submit responses as of press time

Q: How will you work to build productive relationships across districts and party lines?

I am incredibly proud of the relationships I have built within the Legislature and across our district. I believe it is what makes me an effective legislator. As soon as I got word that I would be gaining East Montgomery and Hardin through the redistricting process, I began spending time there at chamber events, school fundraisers and community meetings. In order to properly represent an area, one has no choice but to be a part of the community they represent.

Holt: Effective legislation comes from listening to others and understanding their perspectives while holding to your core values.

Missick: We are all Texans, and we need to work together. Hopefully, we can work together for the common good. However, I believe small government/conservative solutions are what is best for Texas and all Americans. Those are the solutions that I will pursue. I believe that fundamentally, America’s problems are spiritual in nature. We all need to turn to God and obey Christ’s command to love one another, as he loves us.

Tullos: Candidate did not submit responses as of press time

Q: What are the largest effects of the COVID-19 pandemic you have seen in District 18, and what role does the state government have in local recovery?

Bailes: From workforce and staffing issues, to access to telehealth, to ensuring our rural areas have access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatment, there have been countless challenges for Texans. I was happy to support legislation and other efforts to aid in these challenges. Further, I believe the pandemic has emphasized, more than ever, the importance of preserving local control. It’s clear that statewide mandates are not the answer; rather, a specific tailored approach handled by our localities [is].

Holt: The district economy still struggles to get back to pre-pandemic status. The federal government providing incentives to stay home has not helped. State government needs to continue to reduce regulations and eliminate mandates to help encourage economic growth.

Missick: My father passed away with COVID[-19] in August 2021, so I know the toll that this pandemic has taken. However, I believe that we need to move away from the mask mandates and vaccine mandates and move on back into normalcy.

Tullos: Candidate did not submit responses as of press time