By Robert Nathan
Killeen Daily Herald
Financing education, transportation issues, the war in Iraq and restoring confidence in the political system were among the major issues discussed Thursday at a political forum at the Killeen Community Center.
Candidates for the Texas House of Representatives, the Bell County Commissioners Court, United States Congress and other contested races discussed these issues with the public and why they should be elected in the Nov. 7 general election. Early voting begins Monday.
The political forum that attracted 30 people was hosted by the Killeen Branch NAACP, LULAC Council 4535, LULAC Council 4840, and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Jimmy Don Aycock, Republican district 54 state representative candidate, said getting more hands-on curriculum in classrooms would improve the school dropout rate and keeping students directly involved in their academic curriculum would more likely keep them in school.
His Democratic opponent, Edward Lindsay, said teachers should be teaching curriculum rather than teaching the TAKS test.
District 55 state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, R-Temple, said an assessment like TAKS is needed because the old social promotion of students in classrooms created fourth-graders who were unable to read.
Her Democratic opponent, Bill Smith, stressed the need for more vocational classes in school. He said not all students should have to go to college if there are other fields that better suit their skills.
The candidates for the Texas House of Representatives had diverse views regarding the Trans-Texas Corridor, but all agreed transportation funding is crucial in their districts.
The Trans-Texas Corridor is intended to relieve congestion on Interstate 35.
Aycock said the transportation project is too big and too expensive. He said a focus should be placed on expanding Interstate 35 and expanding additional highways to solve the transportation problem.
Lindsay said he would never support a toll road intended for state use.
Delisi agreed improvements on Interstate 35 should be the priority. She stressed the need for an adjacent rail system, however, to reduce traffic congestion on the busy interstate.
Smith strongly opposed the transportation project because of possible eminent domain procedures that could effect residents living in east Bell County.
Candidates in the contest for Bell County Commissioner's Court, Precinct 2, focused on the county's growth. Republican Tim Brown and his Democratic challenger Britt Owen both praised the county's growth and progress.
Brown focused on efficiency in the commissioner's court and being aggressive in protecting water rights for the growing population. He also stressed the importance of securing funding for transportation infrastructure.
Owen said the county's expenses need to be re-evaluated and cited a need to improve communication between the commissioner's court and county residents. He also stressed the need to provide better pay for all public servants.
Mary Beth Harrell, Democratic candidate for the 31st Congressional District, expressed her thoughts on the war in Iraq. Her opponents, U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and Libertarian Matt McAdoo, did not attend the forum.
She said it is painfully clear that going alone in Iraq with the present policy is not working and won't work in the future. She suggested her strong diplomatic and political solution toward Iraq.
"There is never going to be a perfect solution for Iraq," Harrell said. "Whatever we do is going to have problems. Just like anything else, we have to plan for them and fund them."
Rosa Hernandez, Democratic candidate for Bell County District Clerk, said that if she is elected she will work to provide better access to records and improve efficiency. Her Republican opponent, Shelly Coston, did not participate in the forum.
Bree Buchanan, Democratic candidate for Justice for the 3rd Court of Appeals, place 6, also participated in the forum. She stressed the need to open courts for oral arguments and to restore integrity in the court system.
Contact Robert Nathan at email@example.com