Nearing the end of his first term as District 59 state representative, J.D. Sheffield recently reflected upon his experiences, struggles and personal convictions since he was first elected to office.
Although he was born in the small town of Loraine, about 60 miles west of Abilene, Sheffield, a physician, is a longtime Coryell County resident. He has called Coryell County his home since 1993, when he became senior staff physician at Scott & White Clinic in Gatesville.
He was a physician at Gatesville’s Hillcrest Clinic for several years, and presently serves at Coryell Memorial Hospital and the adjacent Coryell Medical Clinic.
Sheffield’s experience as a small-town doctor and his desire to maintain quality care for patients led him to where he is today.
“I decided to run for office to help patients,” he said. “That’s the main reason I got into this.”
His political campaign has maintained that the Affordable Healthcare Act/Law, also known as Obamacare, “will only make matters worse,” when it comes to health care for his district’s patients, he said.
The decision to run for office, though, came with challenges.
“The time away from home and patient care is tough to manage but necessary to be a public servant,” he said. “Fortunately, I have colleagues who’ve stepped in to help.”
Despite the challenges, Sheffield, who considers himself “a common-sense, mainstream Republican,” said he has done his best to serve his constituents well.
“I have tried to do what’s right for the district and state, and I will work with either party when they have good ideas,” Sheffield said.
Partisanship also poses a challenge in Austin, he said, but Sheffield maintains that “there’s not a partisan bone in my body when it comes to health care and what’s best for patients. I have been able to give significant input on those issues as a result.”
Sheffield said the Republican Party is definitely divided on the issues, with the biggest being public education versus private education and charter schools. The second biggest issue is health care.
So far, Sheffield’s bipartisan efforts have not only included health care concerns, but also pro-public education efforts.
“I ran against an opponent who was pro-voucher,” he said.
Sheffield’s proudest accomplishment was being part of the movements to restore funding to public education and to decrease regulation in public education, he said.
This included his strong support of Texas House Bill 5, sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen. It reduced the required number of standardized tests toward high school graduation from 15 to five.
Sheffield believes the Republican Party is in trouble.
“The party seems to be subject to a litmus test for qualification in its ranks,” he said. “I believe that ends up driving away people who would like to be Republicans, but are made to feel unwelcome.”