Candidate Q&A: See who is running for Texas House District 28 on Nov. 5

There are seven candidatesu2014six Republicans and one Democratu2014running in the Nov. 5 special election for Texas House District 28

There are seven candidatesu2014six Republicans and one Democratu2014running in the Nov. 5 special election for Texas House District 28

Gov. Greg Abbott called for a special election to be held Nov. 5 for state House District 28, which covers a portion of Fort Bend County.

The election will allow voters to find a new representative, as Rep. John Zerwas, a Republican, announced July 31 he would step down before the end of his term. Zerwas started work at his new position as executive vice chancellor for health affairs for the University of Texas System on Oct. 1.

Seven residents of House District 28 filed for candidacy, and all will be listed on the Nov. 5 ballot. If a single candidate does not receive over 50% of the vote, the two candidates with the highest number of votes will advance to a runoff election, according to the Texas Secretary of State office.

Whichever candidate wins the special election must file for candidacy again to be placed on the ballot for the primary election in 2020. The filing deadline for the March primary election is Dec. 9. The general election will be held Nov. 3, 2020, and the winner will serve during the 87th Texas legislative session in 2021.

These Q&As have been edited for length and clarity.


Anna Allred (R)


Occupation: Physician
Priorities: Education, workforce training, limiting government, supporting first responders and public safety officers, supporting traditional Texas values, delivering resources to the border
Years in the district: 2
Phone: 281-310-1029
Email: DrAnna@AllredTX.com
Website: www.AllredTX.com
Why are you running for this seat?
The Allreds came to Texas by an open, pulled wagon and settled here in 1837. That indomitable spirit, tenacity and work ethic that has made Texas a strong and independent-minded state was instilled in me as a child.

I’m a Christian whose faith guides me every day.

Texas’ ability to deliver the American dream is under attack by radical liberals who are destroying traditional Texas values. I am running to uphold our Texas values and priorities, which make this the best state to live.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I’m a physician—an outsider to politics—who can bring a fresh perspective and new idea about how to better run our state government. This makes me uniquely qualified to represent our area.

As a physician, I see society through a different lens. I have a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn and the compassion to listen so I can address the issues impacting the health, welfare, safety and lives of all Texans. I work daily to communicate, collaborate and coordinated patient care and operating room teams. These are skills that would help be an effective legislator.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for the district and how do you plan to address it?
District 28 is growing because we offer a great place to live, work and raise a family. This is a place where Texans who work hard can still realize the American Dream. But that’s all under attack from by radical liberals who are destroying traditional Texas values. It’s further undermined by big government liberals who raise property taxes on productive citizens, making home ownership unaffordable to many. We also have the unique challenge of recovering from the devastation caused by Harvey while simultaneously working to mitigate damage from any future storms.

In conversations with constituents, what issue has been brought up the most?
Education and workforce programs, small government, traditional values and efforts to reduce illegal immigration along with drug and human trafficking.

In the 86th legislative session, the main priorities were property taxes, education finance and flood mitigation. Are you satisfied with the outcomes on these issues?
Yes. Cities and counties fought the 3.5% property tax cap without voter approval, but the taxpayers won. Stopping taxpayer-funded lobbying is next. There was also very positive progress on education finance, but there is more to be done; too much money is spent outside the classroom; more resources are needed for the classroom and the teachers. Legislators were also successful in getting $3 billion for flood mitigation so our area can rebuild and prepare for the next hurricane.

What issues do you hope to address in the 87th legislative session?
Increase educational outcomes; fight for pro-life, pro-family values; maintain Texas's commitment to stop illegal immigration, drug smuggling and human trafficking; pursue lawsuit reform; and support first responders to encourage them to remain in the profession.





Gary Gates (R)


Occupation: Business owner
Priorities: Protect taxpayers, secure the border, support our schools, enhance school safety
Years in the district: 27
Phone: 281-301-5477
Email: info@gatesfortexas.com
Website: www.gatesfortexas.com
Why are you running for this seat?
My father was a talented American Air Force pilot when he was tragically murdered when I was just eighteen. I had to step up and support my family and started driving trucks but soon found success in buying, renovating and renting homes. Since then, I have built my business to 500 employees.

I’ve been blessed in my business, with my family, and in my life. The success I have should be available to everyone. I’m on a mission to galvanize our American and Texas freedoms for us, for our children and for our future generations.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I’m a businessman, not a politician. Being state representative is not a stepping stone for me. I’ve made my success in my business and with my family. My motivation is being able to give back and fight for policies that allow future generations to achieve the success I have been blessed with.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for the district and how do you plan to address it?
As a community grows, the first pain points that are felt are in the schools. Oftentimes, our schools in growing communities are trying to catch up to meet the demands of the growth. The state needs to continue to support our public schools, not only to address the demands of growth but also to provide property tax relief for local tax payers.

In conversations with constituents, what issue has been brought up the most?
Without a doubt, the top two issues with constituents is high property taxes and securing the border, particularly to address drug and human trafficking. Texans want to know they will be able to afford to stay in their homes and that their families are safe. I’ll be a strong advocate on both these fronts.

In the 86th legislative session, the main priorities were property taxes, education finance and flood mitigation. Are you satisfied with the outcomes on these issues?
While progress was made in the recent legislative session on all the fronts, they are in no way permanently solved. The best way to ensure the state has the resources to fund education [and] address flood mitigation while lowering taxes is to pass policies that ensure a robust Texas economy. As a businessman, I plan to do just that.

What issues do you hope to address in the 87th legislative session?
We need to continue the work of providing property tax relief, do what the state can in securing the border, support our public schools and ensure Texas remains open for business to create the good jobs our families need.





Gary J. Hale (R)


Occupation: Business owner
Priorities: Gun control, immigration, human trafficking, veterans, homelessness
Years in the district: 19
Phone: 832-865-7659
Email: examinerhale@hotmail.com
Website: www.garyhalefortexashouse28.org
Why are you running for this seat?
To protect and serve. It’s what I’ve done, [and] it’s what I do. I have served the public since I was a teenager in high school as [a] founding member of the Laredo, Texas, chapter of Radio Emergency Associated Communication Teams, where I provided emergency communications and other assistance to the public during emergencies like hurricanes. That experience was the genesis of my interest in public service. After a combined 37 years of military, law enforcement and intelligence service, I am ready to continue this legacy.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I am a decorated veteran who served during Vietnam, and I retired from a career in law enforcement—starting as a police officer and ending as a federal chief of intelligence. Having been involved in shooting situations has given me a unique perspective regarding several issues, including gun violence. As a research fellow and academic researcher at the James A. Baker III Institute at Rice University, I have developed a perspective regarding the development of policy issues that range from combatting crime to immigration to border security.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for the district and how do you plan to address it?
"Plan for the Future." There is a responsibility on government and on new arrivals or migrants to meet the needs of the other. The state needs to provide the infrastructure necessary to assimilate growth, including planning for new or expanded roadways, building additional schools and mitigating water runoff and floods due to increased real estate development or weather events. New arrivals are responsible for ensuring that they are contributing to society and to the tax base so that the state may be fiscally able to continue to provide the many entitlements that are given to those in need.

In conversations with constituents, what issue has been brought up the most?
Constituents have concerns about flood mitigation; education and teacher pay; immigration and human trafficking; veterans care; and homelessness at large. These recurring themes impact on our daily lives because we are a border state that is the entry point for hundreds of thousands on migrants arriving from Central America on a daily basis, and we are also at the end of the bowling alley of hurricanes that arrive in Texas almost yearly. Our constituents deserve that we take care of our own first, while we extend humanitarian assistance to others who may merit assistance.

In the 86th legislative session, the main priorities were property taxes, education finance and flood mitigation. Are you satisfied with the outcomes on these issues?
These are good outcomes because they will provide a financial boost and help improve our state economy as well as incrementally improve the return on the investment for education. I would, however, go a step further and address property tax relief for small businesses, especially those impacted by acts of God.

What issues do you hope to address in the 87th legislative session?
There is work to be done. In flood mitigation, more work needs to be done to protect homes and properties from federal intervention. The State of Texas needs more autonomy over water drainage decisions. We must also work with the federal government to mitigate the cost of resettling hundreds of thousands of migrants who enter the U.S. via Texas. Also, Texas education should be the best in the nation. That begins with finding good teachers and paying them better than well.





Tricia Krenek (R)


Occupation: Attorney, small business owner
Priorities: Meaningful property tax reform, improving local flood control, improving our local public schools, taking care of teachers and retired teachers, border security
Years in the district: 8
Phone: 713-459-8953
Email: triciakrenek@gmail.com
Website: www.triciakrenek.com
Why are you running for this seat?
For House District 28 to continue to thrive, we must have strong, conservative leadership that will deliver results on the issues affecting our community. It has been an honor to serve two terms on the Fulshear City Council as a Fort Bend Grand Old Party Precinct Chair and as a grassroots volunteer in the local Republican Party, Republican Women’s Clubs and in other service organizations in our community. Through my continued involvement, I’ve met numerous community leaders and activists who encouraged me to run and who are supporting my campaign. Each of them knows my commitment to service and can attest to the energy and advocacy I will bring.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?
My experience in and commitment to public service, coupled with my ties to the local community, set me apart from the other candidates. The outpouring of support from across the district is humbling. I am honored to be endorsed by more than 50 local community leaders, current and former elected officials, and 22 Republican precinct chairs. Each of them has played an important role in shaping our community and has positively impacted my life. They know me, my record of service and results, and the leadership I will bring to the Texas House for the benefit of the whole community.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for the district and how do you plan to address it?

The biggest challenge is the efficient and effective management of our growth in terms of infrastructure and economic opportunities. I will use my business acumen and legal skills to develop policies that provide for fiscally sound infrastructure, that spur economic development and improve local quality of life. I will work towards meaningful property tax reform and the reduction of bureaucratic regulations that make it challenging for businesses. I will also make public education improvements a top priority as our schools are a primary reason for families moving into our district.

In conversations with constituents, what issue has been brought up the most?
It is a three-way tie between flood mitigation, property taxes and public education. Given the recent history of House District 28, these three issues are consistently on the forefront of constituents’ minds and will remain top priorities in the 87th legislative session.

In the 86th legislative session, the main priorities were property taxes, education finance and flood mitigation. Are you satisfied with the outcomes on these issues?
I am satisfied that these priorities were addressed in the last session, but there’s more to be done. The recent floods demonstrate that we must secure more resources for flood mitigation and control and infrastructure. Further, it is imperative that our public education system remains a top priority and that we do more to provide meaningful property tax relief, including addressing the appraisal process.

What issues do you hope to address in the 87th legislative session?
The families of House District 28 deserve and need a strong voice in Austin who will listen to them and deliver results on the issues that affect their daily lives. Helping this district—our community—and our great state address these issues and reach our full potential is the driving force behind my passion for and commitment to serving as your next state representative.





Sarah Laningham (R)


Occupation: N/A
Priorities: N/A
Years in the district: N/A
Phone: 979-224-2198
Email: howdy@sarahlaningham.com
Website: www.sarahlaningham.com
Laningham did not respond to the questionnaire.





Eliz Markowitz (D)


Occupation: Instructor, corporate trainer, author
Priorities: Public education, health care, disaster recovery, school safety, gerrymandering, criminal justice
Years in the district: 20
Phone: 818-281-0944
Email: operations@eliz4tx.com
Website: www.eliz4tx.com
Why are you running for this seat?
In 2018, I ran for the Texas State Board of Education because I wanted to work to improve Texas public schools. While running, I heard about all the challenges that Texans face beyond education, such as healthcare, economic development, criminal justice reform, disaster management and school safety. I also learned that Texans want an honest representative that will conduct herself with integrity and work to improve the lives of all Texans—not just a select few. Because of my education and experience in business, technology, healthcare, and education, I believe I am uniquely qualified to address the challenges our state faces.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?
Beyond my experience in the fields of business, healthcare and education, I believe I am the only candidate willing to call out the corruption and dysfunction coming out of Austin. Our politicians are no longer accountable to voters but instead do the bidding of outside corporate interests or extreme partisan groups. I am running to implement logical, sustainable solutions. I also believe I’m the only candidate willing to call for an independent redistricting committee to draw fair maps following the 2020 Census.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for the district and how do you plan to address it?
We must reassess the role that development and property taxes play in our district. Development must happen in a way that invites businesses into our community without displacing families who have been here for generations. Similarly, we must reform our school finance system to reduce reliance on property taxes, which are pushing people out of their homes and create an inequitable education system. Lastly, too many parts of this district are still struggling from the ravages of Hurricane Harvey—we must immediately implement plans to mitigate disasters and ensure the welfare of the displaced during and after such events.

In conversations with constituents, what issue has been brought up the most?
The voters I’ve spoken with in House District 28 repeatedly ask what we can do about the dysfunction and corruption coming out of Austin. They want to know what can be done to get our government working for the people again, and they fear that our elected officials don’t have the character or temperament to reach across the aisle to implement common-sense solutions. Individuals in House District 28 and in Fort Bend County are tired of the divisiveness and negative rhetoric within the district and want a representative that is focused on unity and affecting positive change.

In the 86th legislative session, the main priorities were property taxes, education finance and flood mitigation. Are you satisfied with the outcomes on these issues?
In short, no. While progress was made with the passage of House Bill 3, the state does not currently pay its fair share into our public education system. The current approach requires districts to rely on the state for money and is unsustainable. Furthermore, not all school employees were provided compensation, the provided funding was far less than originally promised, and almost all of that increase will go directly to rising health care costs. We must develop and implement long-term solutions that support educators both during employment and retirement. Lastly, we saw progress with the passage of Senate Bill 2, which allocated $1.7 billion to invest in flood infrastructure, but since this district has seen three 500-year floods in the past five years, we need to invest more into flood mitigation and control. Furthermore, we must address the threat of climate change.

What issues do you hope to address in the 87th legislative session?
Texas ranks 34th in the nation in education, 50th in health care access and affordability and 50th in disaster preparedness. Clearly, we must do better—Texans deserve better. We must lower the cost of prescription drugs, expand Medicaid, and develop rural health care centers. We must also end our reliance on high-stakes STAAR testing as a metric of school accountability. Additionally, we must improve the state’s ability to respond to natural disasters and other crises.





Clinton D. Purnell (R)


Occupation: Logistics and trade compliance manager
Priorities: Fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget; safety and security; flood control
Years in the district: 10
Phone: 832-968-9865
Email: purnellclint@hotmail.com
Website: https://clintdpurnell-for-state-rep-dist28.com/
Why are you running for this seat?
I felt compelled to get directly involved, considering there is a total of four district vacancies throughout Texas. We simply cannot afford to sit idle allowing a Democrat to pick up these districts and implement their liberal agendas, such as higher taxes, more government regulation of health care, progressive approaches to education and political correctness within our conservative communities.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I am not a career politician. For the past 18 years, I have worked for Houston-area engineering firms, and I believe that the best and most creative solutions come from listening and working in a collaborative teamwork environment, often comprising individuals with differing perspectives and backgrounds. I know success at work means listening and negotiating for the benefit of our clients and projects. I’d like to bring this concept to local communities and work to streamline local government operations more along the line of small businesses and corporations.

What would you say is the biggest challenge for the district and how do you plan to address it?
The biggest challenge within the district is exposing the false narrative of the Democratic party as to Grand Old Party racism, bigotry and cultural civil war. As a community leader, I’d encourage more community events, such as market days [and] international food festivals along with community gatherings and forums to generate a constructive dialogue to gain knowledge and understanding amongst our residents and form continuity within the Republican Party.

In conversations with constituents, what issue has been brought up the most?
While speaking with constituents in our district the number one topic is maintaining a strong conservative base within the community and the importance of keeping the Republican Party majority for the 2020 elections. Many of my neighbors feel the Democrat-liberal ideology does not favor our community and wellbeing. We do not support most of their agendas, such as higher property taxes, increased taxes on certain individuals and corporations, higher government regulation of healthcare, restricting oil and fossil fuels, progressive approaches to education and political correctness.

In the 86th legislative session, the main priorities were property taxes, education finance and flood mitigation. Are you satisfied with the outcomes on these issues? Why or why not?
Overall, I was satisfied with the bipartisan efforts, but due to the large number of bills and variety of topics covered, it was not feasible to get everything passed—as with most legislative sessions. A couple of key victories were from House Bill 3 (additional funding to school districts for classroom teacher salaries), House Bill 2 (property tax reform) and House Bill 1 (a disaster-relief bill); leaving room for work to be done in the next legislation.

What issues do you hope to address in the 87th legislative session?
Some of the topics may be comprehensive school finance reform; abortion; women’s health care; state income tax debates; mental illness reform; gambling or regulation of game rooms; Texas workforce commission; licensing consequences and regulation of hemp or cannabis; carrying firearms; distribution and consumption of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes; changing parole eligibility, additional funding to school districts; [and] regulation to cosmetologists and nail salons. Everyone has an important voice and opinion, and I want to work closely within the district and community leaders along with fellow citizens and help satisfy their top concerns and priorities.


By Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Jen has written about business, politics and education. Prior to CI, Jen was the web producer at Houston Business Journal.


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