By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
With seven weeks to go before the March 4 primary, the four Republican candidates vying for the open District 55 seat in the Texas House gave a quick sampling of their platforms during a brief introduction at the Killeen Exchange Club meeting Monday.
Ralph Sheffield, Mike Pearce, Martha Tyroch and John Alaniz spent a few minutes each during the lunch in an attempt to show what overall strategies they will use to distinguish themselves in the upcoming race in order to earn their party's nomination.
The four were joined by District 54 representative Jimmie Don Aycock, who is running unopposed in his first re-election campaign.
Also taking part in the forum was Democrat Sam Murphey, who will be unchallenged in the primary and will take on whomever emerges March 4 from the Republican pack.
Sheffield spoke about his roots as a long-time Temple small business owner, referencing his 32 years in the community numerous times. He equated adapting to his customer's needs to adapting to the needs of the people of Bell County. He also emphasized border security.
"We don't have secure borders right now," Sheffield said in a prepared speech. "We have to have a safer environment in Texas, (to counteract the influence of) drug trafficking and terrorism. We need more surveillance, we need DPS working with border patrol."
Mike Pearce drew a laugh in his opening line, referencing his youth with joke that another candidate had served more years in the military than he had been alive.
Pearce also referenced his status as a small business owner, pursuing a career with a private enterprise after spending 10 years as a teacher in Killeen. He emphasized lower taxes and lowering the dependency levels of constituents.
"No nation has ever taxed its way to prosperity – legislators should know where they stand on every vote. It should be posted." Pearce said, noting the cultural ideological shift he's witnessed as a teacher.
"There is a great cultural divide. As a teacher for 10 years, I'm very familiar with the lack of respect for the dignity of human life, and society's embrace of violence."
Temple city councilwoman Martha Tyroch spoke about the issues facing veterans in today's society, noting her 20 years experience in a medical profession.
"Health care should be accessible to all individuals; I understand the needs, from little to big," she said. "When I ran for City Council, I realized I wanted to give something back. My dad was a veteran. I understand veteran's issues."
Finally, John Alaniz spoke, emphasizing smaller government and privatization of many industries, particularly highway improvements.
"I'm amazed at the success and achievements of those who have come before us," Alaniz said. "Politics and government is not what will help us to succeed; it will be the people. I believe we have a proud heritage in free enterprise and hard work. That's why we are prosperous."
Aycock spoke first, briefly commenting that though he is running unopposed, he plans to run an active campaign, emphasizing his often-uttered credo that he does not take any vote for granted.
Murphey spoke as well, reading a prepared speech which went far beyond the three-minute time limit set prior to the meeting, a move which drew as many laughs as jeers from the small lunch crowd, as he continued speaking after the requests to stop.
Contact Justin Cox at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7568