As early voting began this week for the March 4 Republican primary, the two candidates for the District 55 seat in the Texas House of Representatives visited the Herald to share their views on issues affecting Central Texas voters.
Incumbent state Rep. Ralph Sheffield, of Temple, stressed his record as he runs for re-election for a fourth term.
“I’m a proven leader,” Sheffield said. “Since I’ve been in the House, we’ve had the most conservative record in Texas history.”
He cited legislation regarding abortion and voter ID restrictions as successful work during the past six years, along with his continued concern for veterans and energy issues.
Sheffield emphasized his accessibility, along with his personal experience as a 40-year Bell County small-business owner. Sheffield’s primary challenger, Molly S. White, of Belton, described herself as a grass-roots political activist who has spent 13 years working with leading conservative groups on legislation, running for election because of her concern for the state.
“We live in the best state in the country, but we’re under attack by the liberals and Democrats (trying) to change this state from red to blue,” White said.
White sees the economy, spending and debt concerns as the major challenges for Texans today. She named specific bills voted for by Sheffield as detriments to residents of District 55, along with federal legislation including “Obamacare.”
White also is passionate about protecting the Second Amendment.
“I don’t even think people should have to have a license to carry a gun because that’s unconstitutional,” White said.
Both candidates touched on the region’s ongoing water issues and the need for higher education.
White expressed disappointment in Sheffield’s decision not to participate in a debate she proposed earlier this week.
“I believe every candidate should have the opportunity to talk to voters about issues and qualifications. (Sheffield) has a record; he needs to defend his record,” White said.
Sheffield said he only received the request for a debate a week in advance.
“If there was to be a debate, it should be by a bipartisan group, not by a group that’s endorsing her. My time can be better utilized making phone calls on the first day of early voting,” Sheffield said.
District 55 includes Belton, Temple and much of Bell County.
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