Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 10, 2014

Let the race begin!

Candidates for House of Representatives, County Clerk debate issues

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — Two familiar foes from 2012 faced-off in a political forum at Henderson County Republican Party Headquarters in Athens on Thursday.

Texas House of Representatives candidates Lance Gooden and Stuart Spitzer answered a series of pre-prepared questions that covered topics like college tuition for illegal aliens, transportation, the Texas Teachers Retirement System and planning for the state water needs. Gooden, seeking a third term, defeated Spitzer in a close vote in 2012.

One issue on which the candidates have different opinions was is the state budget.

“The most important thing they do every year, and the one they’re constitutionally-mandated to do each year is pass the state budget,” Spitzer said. “Our budget went up 24 percent. Anyone here get a 24-percent raise this year?”

Spitzer said although the legislature passed a balanced budget, the taxpayers were hit with a heavier load in 2013.

“We have to have a balanced budget by constitution,” Spitzer said. “But anyone bragging on a balanced budget is like bragging that the sun came up today.”

Spitzer said higher appraised values on homes cost taxpayers more each year, even though the tax rate doesn’t change.

Gooden said the last budget addressed citizen’s concerns that the legislature had cut too much from important funds, health and human services and public education.

“What we did was restore some of the cuts to public education,” Gooden said. “Our school board members were pleased with that, and teachers are happy with that. We did not raise taxes, so that’s false.”

Gooden said he’s happy that the state rainy-day fund is a strong as it has ever been.

“We have over $9 billion in that fund,” Gooden said. “It’s the largest fund we’ve ever had in the history of this state.”

Sarah Taylor of the Lone Star Republican Club of Texas read the questions to Spitzer and Gooden.

Henderson County Clerk Candidates Leticia Carpenter and Mary Margaret Wright gave a brief synopsis of why they think the voters should choose them as the replacement for the retiring Gwen Moffeit.

Wright realized her prior experience in the service industry, and her passion for excellent customer service could make a positive difference.  During her five years in that office, she is remembered as the friendly, courteous helper, who assisted the citizens with their business there.

Currently, Wright is working with a local title company as an abstractor, where her knowledge, attention to detail and customer-service skills are availed by both the public and professional clients of the title company. Carpenter said she has spent 23 years in the County Clerk’s office, and her knowledge of the procedures makes her the better choice for the office.