Candidates for Texas House of Representatives District 30 speak on state issues

Two candidates in a primary run-off race for the Republican nomination for Texas’ House District 30 seat spoke to a crowd of about 100 people at a political forum on Wednesday.

Jeff Bauknight and AJ Louderback answered questions on various topics, including the Texas border, school voucher programs, property taxes, protests at college campuses, school safety, power-grid reliability, hurricane preparedness and campaign messaging. Both candidates started the forum with an opening statement and how their experiences in elected positions have prepared them for a role in the Texas House of Representatives.

Bauknight began by telling the audience about his life experiences and time as mayor of Victoria. Bauknight said it was important to him to raise a family with conservative values.

“As my wife and I started having a family, we made a conscious decision that we wanted to be back closer to family and the conservative values of House District 30,” Bauknight said. “It’s very important for us to to introduce our our children to the conservative values that so many of the communities within House District 30 enjoy.”

Louderback highlighted his experience in law enforcement and working with state and national legislators on problems in the state of Texas. Louderback said he is able to read bills to determine what would be effective for the state and for the nation in law enforcement.

“This work in this arena has prepared me for this job,” Louderback said. “Four decades of law enforcement experience has prepared me for this issue, for going to Austin and representing you. I can read a bill and determine what we could use in law enforcement in our state and in our nation.”

Border Security

Louderback said he supports bussing immigrants to other parts of the country for Texas. He said there is a quick way to solve the issues on the border, which is through checks and balances.

“You trade tariffs and fees for border security. You bring the Mexican government to their knees financially and they will respond,” Louderback said. “We know this is true because that is exactly what President Trump did. The top three priorities are to secure the border, stop the flow and stop the invasion. You stop an invasion with superior force or equal force.”

Bauknight agreed and said the bussing of immigrants to other states has woken up the nation to immigration issues.

“It’s woken up the nation to everything that we’ve been experiencing in Texas, so you can see it now becoming a national issue,” Bauknight said. “It was definitely the right thing to do and is the right thing to continue to do.”

School Vouchers

Bauknight said he would support parents’ choices for which school to send their children to. He said there are a number of different issues the state needs to work on when it comes to public education.

“We’re going to have to change an entire culture of expectations on students and all parents, and while we’re doing that, we need to give parents the choice they need to choose the best education path for their children,” Bauknight said.

Bauknight said he would work toward a parental choice bill that keeps the public schools whole, provides a path for parents to choose the best educational needs for their children and meets the needs of people who are already paying taxes into the public school education system.

”The last thing I would want to do is harm the public school districts while we’re providing parental choice for other parents,” he said.

Louderback said it’s important to have school districts working together.

“I think it’s paramount that we put together a system here that will take care of our public schools where they can work in concert with each other,” Louderback said.

Property Taxes

Louderback said property taxes are currently too high, and something has to be done to address property tax rates after three years of the Biden administration and inflation.

“I think we need to go run another exemption but a higher amount to give you the kind of relief that you deserve,” Louderback said. “I think it’s very appropriate and very necessary that you get the kind of break on your property taxes that the state can afford.”

Bauknight said that state of Texas still has a lot of work to do when it comes to property taxes.

“I think there’s a lot of things that we need to work on as a state to continue giving relief to taxpayers but recognize the fact that even the property taxes that are being collected aren’t paying for our most basic necessities,” Bauknight said.

First Amendment

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In relation to the recent protests at universities across the country, Bauknight said he finds many of the actions there reprehensible.

“There is a way to exercise your First Amendment rights, but what they’re doing is wholly incorrect,” Bauknight said. “I respect the right for someone to voice their opinion, and do it in a respectful manner, but the manner in which they’re going about is totally wrong. I applaud those efforts of law enforcement to go in there and take out the encampments that have encroached on college campuses.”

Louderback said he believes that Texas has adequately handled the situation of college campus protests in the state.

“What’s going on all universities is very disturbing. It’s nothing new. There’s been a lot of issues at some of the colleges across the nation,” Louderback said. “I think it reflects an attitude of the nation. It reflects an attitude of disrespect, and I was glad to see Texas’ response to what happened here.”

School Safety

Louderback said the systemic loss of personnel and law enforcement over the past 10 to 15 years is unprecedented and has led to a lack of security in schools throughout District 30.

“We can’t build an academy up, and we can’t graduate the amount of people necessary to protect our streets and our citizens,” Louderback said. “We’re still securing our schools from a perspective of how many kids are in your district, instead of a campus security profile. I prefer a campus profile where the campus itself must be protected. I think this is the way to go as we move forward.”

Bauknight said each district needs to protections for children based on the individual needs of that district.

“I believe that we need additional protections for our children at the schools whether it’s hardening the facilities or providing school resource officers or implementing the Guardian Program. Whatever works for that independent school district or each school district or campus may be different,” Bauknight said.

Power Grid

Bauknight said he would prefer the Texas power grid to rely on coal and natural gas over wind and solar.

“We have such an abundance of natural gas in Texas, and we’re going to have to as a state invest in our grid. We need reliable, secure power,” Bauknight said. “We are very fortunate. I think in Texas, to have our own power grid, but we haven’t invested in it in a manner that we need to reduce gas fired generators, ensuring our coal plants stay open as they are attacked by the EPA and the federal government.”

Louderback said natural gas is the best option for strengthening the reliability for the Texas power grid.

“That should be a priority for the state of Texas to make sure we’ve got our grid where it needs to be and supported at a level it needs to be,” Louderback said. “Then we can take on the hottest days and the coldest nights and that comes from real infrastructure, which is not solar or wind.”

Hurricane Preparedness

Louderback said if there is a disaster like a hurricane or a man made disaster, the surrounding counties need to work together in combining their resources to ensure the safety of the public and helping people through difficult times.

“What I see across the district right now, is that we don’t have enough exercises that are put together from a district wide standpoint that we practice,” Louderback said. “I think that coordinated efforts to bring together the six counties in a way that each of them can work together and combine our resources is the real secret to taking on any kind of natural disaster you may have or a man made disaster.”

Bauknight said he believes Hurricane Harvey has better prepared the state of Texas for another disaster.

“I’m sure every hurricane is going to be different. It is going to impact us all differently, but I’m proud of the way that we responded after Hurricane Harvey. I think it’s made a better plan for the state and better preparedness for Texans,” Bauknight said.

Campaign Messaging

Bauknight said the messaging throughout his campaign including advertisements and flyers has accurately reflected his position as a candidate.

“It’s important when you’re going through a campaign to tell your positives and make sure that constituents and voters know what you plan to do and what your background is and to make sure that they can gain some confidence in you as they go to the polls,” Bauknight said.

Louderback said this campaign has been historic in the amount of money spent, but it was also about the record of the candidate and their honor.

“Several facets of this election to me were terrible. These types of situations, in a Republican primary, in my opinion should have never taken place,” Louderback said. “I think you’ve got to be accountable for your record, I certainly am, but you also have to have honor.”