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U.S. House, county commissioner hopefuls participate in BCS Chamber’s second candidate forum this week

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 11:02 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce hosted its second but smaller candidate forum Thursday evening, featuring five candidates vying for two different seats.

Operating under a similar format to Monday’s candidate forum that showcased Bryan and College Station city council races, Thursday’s forum focused on the elections for Brazos County Commissioner in Precinct No. 2 and the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas' 17th congressional district.

The event kicked off with the debate between county commissioner candidates Russ Ford and Jane Sherman.

“The reason that I chose to run is that I want to help people,” Ford said. “I want to be accessible, proactive, and manage our budget so we don’t have to raise our taxes.”

“I want the voters to know no matter who you are, I’m here to listen to your concerns,” Sherman said. “I have done that for most of my life, advocating for people in the community."

Ford and Sherman sparred over topics like budget preparation and authorization, elevating health care workers to first responder status, and using more privately contracted services to fulfill county objectives. They also discussed issues they believe are the most critical for their community to improve.

“First transportation," Ford said. "We are the largest community in the country that’s not served by an interstate highway, so we’ve got a little bit of an access problem north-south and east-west.”

“It’s really important to address the lack of mental health services in our community," Sherman said. "With the closing of Rock Prairie Mental Health Center, we don’t have any in-patient care anymore in our community.”

Then the three candidates racing to represent Texas' 17th district in the U.S. Congress, Democrat Rick Kennedy, Republican Pete Sessions, and Libertarian Ted Brown, took the stage.

“My core guiding principle is I’m looking for solutions to our problems that increase the health, the security, and prosperity of Central Texans, regardless of where they fall on the ideological scale,” Kennedy said.

“I’m a conservative Republican who will go to Washington to represent not just conservative Christian values, but also to grow our economy and be a part of supporting Donald Trump in his next four years to make America great again," Sessions said.

“I want voters to know there is an alternative in this race,” Brown said. “The Democrats and Republicans have been in charge for the last 160 years, and look at the results. We’re in ruin and despair.”

These candidates debated topics including online regulatory agencies, pathways to citizenship for immigrants, abortion rights, federal guidelines for voting by mail, and feelings on congressional figures and committees.

“Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure," Kennedy said. "You’ll get into a small town where the stores are essentially mostly boarded up, the roads are crumbling, and the water is being delivered in 100-year-old pipes.”

“Republicans need to move back into the majority and get a transportation bill done," Sessions said. "Secondly, to make sure that our research and development is not only on the mark but providing this country with the R&D that A&M is great for.”

“We need somebody in there who wants to cut the size of government," Brown said. "Federal government interferes too much in our lives across the board, and we need to change that.”

The candidates in the Texas House District 14 race were also scheduled to take the stage, but their debate was called off because one of the candidates had potential exposure to COVID-19.

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