By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
Danny Daniels filed for the House District 55 special election. But not to win an election.
No, Daniels forked over the $750 to get his name on the Nov. 4 ballot, the same that will bear the names of Republican Ralph Sheffield and Democrat Sam Murphey.
But, Daniels has no political capital, no signage supporting his candidacy for the two-month stint in office and no desire to become a state representative.
Murphey and Sheffield campaign on addressing issues facing District 55 and Central Texas – such as ensuring the construction of Interstate 35, appraisal caps, tax cuts, unfunded mandates, improving the transportation system, and a great deal more.
Daniels campaigns on one topic, and one topic only. And he maintains that whoever wins the District 55 election in November would be able to achieve far more if he takes up the same philosophy once in office.
His platform is simple, and yet exceedingly complicated – Daniels is an advocate for resources supporting prevention of child abuse and neglect inside the community.
"If you get them to focus on something they can actually have an impact on, they might be able to actually make a difference," Daniels said Saturday. "Let's get some substance out of this election."
Daniels said a state representative would be far more capable of effecting a positive change toward that cause than they would if they put their efforts toward any number of complex problems, nearly all of which can be solved in the long-term with a commitment to improve the families in the community who commit acts of neglect and abuse toward their children.
And yes, Daniels said a dramatic improvement in that single area would address the breadth of difficulties facing not only Bell County, but the state of Texas.
How? Money and resources, he said.
Daniels first got really involved in abuse and neglect prevention in 2004 and 2005, when Bell County jumped to the state's fifth highest rate of abuse.
The amount of money that goes toward addressing the aftermath is so obscene, Daniels said, the effect of putting resources toward prevention would be remarkable.
There were more than 3,000 cases of child abuse in Bell County alone in 2005, and 800 of those put children in critical care. And 90 percent of violent criminals suffered abuse as children, and in turn do the same to their children and spouses. From simply a financial resources perspective, Daniels said that a single child abuse case can cost the state of Texas more than $200,000; for every child put into foster care, it costs the state $40,000, he said.
Programs like Aware Central Texas provides outreach services focused on prevention, which is Daniels' primary goal.
The idea of getting to troubled families is certainly not new, not even in Bell County.
Harker Heights Police Chief Mike Gentry sought out help commonly troubled residents 10 years ago by attempting to acquire grant funding for a family services unit, but was denied by the local government entities. It was to be a core resource in the department efforting to diagnose repetitive instances of care.
"We sought that funding to be innovative to put family services to bear sooner, and become intimately familiar so that we would have a trained resource coordinator," Gentry said. "So when the worst came, we would have access to (the appropriate agency). ... We felt like nobody was listening."
Daniels isn't a candidate to be a representative, but is out to win – it's simply his latest attempt to reach out to people in the community and make them aware of a problem that will continue from generation to generation until an active, assertive effort is made to stop it.
Think of all it could do, he said.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.