Four Williamson County men are seeking the Republican nomination for Texas Congressional District 31.
The seat currently is held by U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, who is seeking his 10th term. His opponents are Mike Williams, Chris Wall and Abhiram Garapati, all of Williamson County.
District 31 represents Bell and Williamson counties.
“When I talk with my Central Texas neighbors, I hear their concerns about issues facing this country,” Carter said, “and it’s my job as their representative to solve these problems. Plain and simple, I am running for Congress to solve problems with commonsense solutions, and I have a record of doing just that.”
Mike Williams, a retired Austin Fire Department firefighter, said he is running for election because he doesn’t see Carter as being part of the solution to the nation’s problem.
Wall has worked as a police officer since 1999 and is currently patrol sergeant for the Elgin Police Department. He said he is running for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives because he thinks the district is in dire need of a representative who is a reflection of community.
“The district needs a representative who is not a politician, comes from the working class and has a vested interest in finding solutions to current problems,” he said.
Garapati arrived in the United States from India in 1997 and started Ant Savings, a real estate investment company, in 2004.
Based in Austin, Ant Savings, a multimillion dollar company, has real estate investments in 12 states.
Garapati said the United States has stopped dreaming big and he wants to make impossible goals possible.
“When was the last time we saw a project like the Golden Gate Bridge being built or sent a man to the moon?” Garapati asked.
Issues that need attention
House Speaker Nancy Pe-losi, Carter said, has chosen to focus her attention on impeachment and obstruction throughout her majority.
Carter said the focus should be on lowering prescription drug prices, infrastructure improvements, improving veteran care and expanding resources for law enforcement to keep our communities safe.
Some of the issues Williams views as important are: constitutional principles; enhancing civil liberties/rights and parental rights protection; and border security and merit based immigration.
Issues important to Wall include balancing the budget and creating a path to eliminating the debt; health care, particularly mental health care and the lack of providers; and immigration reform.
Garapati has a number of goals for Congress and District 31 to be accomplished by 2050 and include balancing the budget and paying off the national debt; introducing infrastructure projects that involve a hyper loop and a subway train system; zero landfill waste; and making the United States the safest and the healthiest country in the world.
The impeachment of President Trump was all about politics, Carter said, and he voted against both articles of impeachment.
“The Constitution is clear on the standards for impeachment, and this case did not meet those standards,” the former district judge said.
Carter said Democrats have wasted a lot of time on impeaching the president when they should have been working with Republicans on legislation to lower prescription drug prices, keep schools safe and fix health care.
Williams said the impeachment of Trump was a sham and driven by pure hatred.
“The process had no founding in constitutional principle and was an abuse of power by the Democratic House majority,” Williams said.
Wall said the impeachment of Trump was not warranted.
“You can accuse anyone of anything, but it doesn’t make it true,” he said. “The facts did not support the articles of impeachment.”
Garapati said the impeachment was an unnecessary distraction.
What the president did was inappropriate, but did not warrant an impeachment, he said.
Ending private insurance and putting Americans on a one-size-fits-all socialized plan is not the solution, Carter said.
“I believe our health care system should protect pre-existing conditions, promote patient choice and expand access to care,” Carter said.
When it comes to medical care, Williams said the government cannot possibly know what is best for each American’s heath care needs. Tax incentives would enable people to keep more of their money and personally address their health care.
Wall said the government doesn’t have any business being in health care.
Those who can get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act should be able to keep it, Wall said. The health insurance business needs to be deregulated to promote competition and coverage should be able to cross state lines.
Garapati said he wants to work with the insurance industry to make health care truly affordable and remove unnecessary costs to make insurance more affordable.
Resources for veterans
Carter said he is constantly striving to bring more resources for Central Texas veterans as the top Republican on the Veterans Affairs funding committee.
With the highest population of veterans of any Texas district, Carter said he is committed to growing and improving veteran care in Central Texas. He secured funding for two new VA clinics in Killeen and Copperas Cove, and funded an expansion for the Cedar Park VA clinic.
Though not adequate, the VA is moving in the right direction in supplying veteran with needed resources, Williams said. Speaking directly with veterans is the best way to determine what they want.
“As of right now I do not know if we have adequate services for veterans, but we can always improve on what’s in place,” Wall said.
On the health front, resources for veterans could be improved by allowing veterans to see their primary physician in lieu of the VA, he said. The additional costs would come from halting future VA construction.
Garapati said he wants to work to create more job opportunities for veterans and make sure the veterans are offered good medical care through the VA.
Campaigning for Congress
“I have a proven track record of fighting for Central Texans. I listen to my constituents’ needs and I fight every day on their behalf in Washington,” Carter said. “Experience matters, track record matters and ties to this community matter.”
This election is especially important, because redistricting is next year, he said.
“I represent the American worker, the American family and the American dream,” Garapati said
District 31 will get the hardest working congressman who wants to dream big and set some big goals for the country and future generations, he said.
Wall said he didn’t decide to run for U.S. representative as a lark.
“I’ve been serving Texans for 19 years,” he said. “I’ve been standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Wall said he wants to continue offering that help on a larger scale. He said he knows the struggle of the working class and has experience with the mental health crisis, gun rights and public safety.
Williams said he has some specific objectives he wants to accomplish as congressman. Maintaining a strong defense, Veterans Affairs and the economy are issues Williams said he thinks are heading in the right direction. Others he said need work include judicial and senatorial accountability, term limits and abortion rights.
Make Williamson red again
Williamson County favored MJ Hegar, the Democratic candidate in the Congressional District 31, in the 2018 election.
That year, Carter said he was outspent four to one in his race because of the outpouring of California and New York money for his opponent, but what helped him be successful was a strong grassroots presence.
“My team and I knocked and called over 100,000 voters, and we are going to reach even more this year because of the outpouring of volunteers that are already engaged in the race,” Carter said.
Williams said he plans to return Williamson County to red by inspiring voters with ideas that evoke energized optimism working toward goals for a better future.
Garapati said he will be meeting as many voters as possible and convincing them about the need to support the America Should Win campaign to defeat the socialist Democrats.
The message needs to be focused, Wall said. He said there is a huge disconnect, and a new face that is willing to go into the community and develop personal relationships is needed.
You can’t lead or represent from behind a desk in your office, Wall said.