Your Vote Counts: A look at the race for Congressional District 8

Updated: Feb. 20, 2022 at 12:00 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Texas (KBTX) - Twelve people are hoping to replace Congressman Brady, (R) - District 8. He announced he’s not running for re-election to represent District 8 in the House of Representatives. Eleven Republicans and one Democrat are now on the March Primary ballot.

On the Republican side the candidates are Jessica Wellington, Taylor M. Whichard IV, Chuck Montgomery, Jonathan Hullihan, Morgan Luttrell, Dan McKaughan, Candice C. Burrows, Michael Philips, Jonathan A. Mitchell, Christian Collins and Betsy Bates. Laura Jones is the lone Democrat running for the seat.

House District 8 covers part of Polk and San Jacinto Counties as well as parts of Montgomery, Walker and Northwest Harris Counties. It’s a much smaller district than the one Brady has represented since 1997. With a dozen candidates to chose from, District 8 voters have plenty of choice. Redistricting shrunk District 8 but the area is still known for being a conservative stronghold.

Some voters like Nekita Poplar are concerned about how their children learn.

“I’m really worried about education. Like I said my son is a senior this year and I’ve seen a lot of changes with the new high school coming and lots of new growth as far as education, business you know,” said Poplar of Montgomery.

Voter Brett Cleveland worries about economic growth and small businesses, but it’s voter issues that top his list.

“I think the border is my primary concern. I think the demographics of this country are shifting. I think the conservative Republican Party’s probably 20 years from now may not exist if it does exist do they have a chance to get elected?,” said Cleveland.

Ellie Davis is a mom with a newborn and works in Healthcare, she’s concerned about vaccine mandates during the pandemic.

“I believe that everybody should have the freedom to make that choice...There’s definitely conservative values around here and I hope that whoever does get elected stands for those and continues to fight for freedom,” said Davis, who lives near the Lake Conroe area.

Republicans have historically held the 8th District since the 1980′s.

The candidates responded to our questions with the following answers.

Response from Laura Jones

  • I am running for Congress because too often Washington insiders are elected and they do not do right by those that elected them. They protect their own agenda, their party’s agenda or the agenda of Corporations and/ or wealthy individuals but fail to do what they were elected to do, which is represent the will of the people. The constituents in District 8 deserve better representation and when electing me, will have a representative they can hold accountable to do the peoples’ work in Washington. I believe the best person to represent “us” is one of us, not a Washington insider or someone from the elite class that has never struggled to pay bills or worried about how they’ll pay for their kid’s college education. We need to elect average, hardworking people that can empathize with the average, hardworking constituents in their district so when that elected official is in Washington they are able to truly represent the people’s’ best interest. I believe that community first equals America first but unfortunately too many candidates and politicians are doing every thing they can to pull our attention away from our communities. Our Districts are made up of communities- multi cultural, multi racial communities. Our representative in Washington needs to be able to listen to everyone and in turn, speak for everyone. Everyone’s vote counts and everyone’s voice should be heard. In too many communities, friends and neighbors are busy fighting over partisan politics while our power is slowing being stripped away. While our communities are distracted and divided, we are neglecting to hold our elected officials accountable to make decisions that improve our daily lives, put money in our bank accounts and make it easier to educate our children.
  • I understand that the job I am applying for is to represent the will of the people in District 8. Regardless of what I personally consider my top priorities to be, once elected I work for the people. I will be in communication with all the groups and demographics that make up District 8 and will represent their priorities in Washington. I will be a representative for all of the people, not just those in my party, not just those that look like me, not just those that agree with my personal opinions.
  • I’ve traveled around the District for the past 3 years talking to community leaders, Mayors, city council members and voters from both parties and these are the main issues where people want to see changes: Make healthcare affordable and accessible- we need to lower prescription drug costs, include vision and dental in Medicare plans for no additional cost. My small rural county has no Hospital, no Emergency Room and no Urgent Care Clinic and the closest reputable hospital is over an hour away, this is an example of lack of basic access to healthcare. There are residents living in Houston that cannot afford the cost of health insurance or out of pocket costs for Doctor visits and this is an example of lack of affordable healthcare. Many Veterans live in rural areas and must drive long distances to get to a VA clinic or Hospital. Those receiving social security income need a substantial cost of living raise. We need to invest more money into public education to ensure our teachers receive permanent raises and we need to be able to provide more secure teachers retirement. Our students living in rural areas deserve the same high quality public education that students in larger cities receive and need access to resources. Bringing rural broadband to communities outside the major cities- lack of access to high speed internet affects the ability for people to work from home, affects the ability for students to take online college courses and for grade school students to complete course work online, affects the ability to access telemedicine- online Doctor visits and mental health counseling, affects the ability to attract companies that would in turn provide higher paying jobs. Most job applications are available only online and those that lack access are at a disadvantage. On the flip side, there are residents living in Houston that cannot afford the cost of high speed internet. High speed internet should be considered a public utility like water or electricity in 2022 and affordable and available to everyone. Also flooding is an issue that affects too many residents throughout the District in poor and wealthy neighborhoods alike, in both rural and suburban areas. All the aforementioned issues are my personal priorities but as I mentioned in my answer to question 2, once elected I understand my job is to represent the will of the constituents in District 8.
  • I’m a native Texan born and raised in Houston. I have been married for 25 years and my husband and I have 6 children. My family and I moved to the small, rural town of Coldspring about 4 years ago and we love it! I met my Husband in Culinary school and we have both worked in the service industry for decades. Before moving to rural Texas, we sold our successful small cleaning company in Houston and I now work as a real estate agent and operate a small farm. I am a board member on my city’s water board, a board member on my city’s community center board and a member of the Coldspring-Oakhurst ISD School District Improvement Committee. I volunteer regularly at local food pantries across the District because I believe it’s important to be of service in all aspects of my life. I also believe as a candidate I need to go where the people are, not expect them to come to me. I have many allies and friends that vote differently than I do but we understand that community is more important than partisan politics. At the end of the day if my property taxes increase my neighbors property taxes will too. If my grandchildren are struggling in the local public school because of lack of resources, my neighbors’ children will likely be affected as well. If my neighborhood floods, voters from both parties are affected. We’re all in this together regardless of how those that divide us work so hard to convince us otherwise.

Response from Candice Burrows

  • My name is Candice C Burrows I am 100% true Regan Trump policy supporter not an 80% supporter like the Freedom Caucus. I am running for Congress to serve our district to ensure that our citizen’s rights will no longer be violated.
  • Vaccine Mandates should have never been allowed in the United States of America!!! No one should have ever been forced to inject a genetically engineered substance in their body, that violates our unalienable rights.
  • Russian and Chinese soldiers are unvaccinated for COVID. In fact, the CCP has forbidden COVID Vaccines and Chinese military scientists are working on their own vaccine. What do they know? What is the CDC hiding from us? Why did Pfizer request a 75 year exception on revealing their data on the mRNA vaccine that is currently being challenged in Federal court.
  • I oppose vaccine mandates to any individual residing with our borders or citizens serving on foreign lands as it violates our unalienable right to choose. There is a clear violation of informed consent due to the fact that the data is being suppressed, the vaccine and booster side effects are numerous and they are not being reported.
  • We need to overhaul our healthcare systems including allowing associations to negotiate group rates this lowers our premiums, co-pays and deductibles; the larger the group the more likely pre-existing conditions are eliminated as in the case of larger companies. The affordable care act is not affordable with co-pays, deductibles and premiums so high the average citizen is effectively an uninsured insured and defers procedures or test due to the high out of pocket cost Having worked in my husbands practice I feel that allowing association to offer group rates with other measures; expanded Medicaid for the working lower income family and premium tax credits for the young would help solve the uninsured insured and allow preexisting conditions to be covered.
  • I want legislation passed where there are independent audits of voter rolls to ensure the legitimacy of our federal elections. There is voter fraud dating back years, but specifically in 2015 VOTER MOTOR Democrats got 68% of the votes were typically it was 45% Republican 32% Republican clear in violation of our elections
  • I want TENT CITY COURTS where we adjudicate right there on the border, no one misses their trial.
  • I support title 9 of the education act of 1972 where women have their own sports teams in schools and colleges I oppose male trans individuals using female bathrooms and locker rooms and participating in female sports I support protecting our youth. Loudoun County we hear you loud and clear and I do not want what happened there to happen in our communities.
  • I support a classical education, I am in favor of school choice and vouchers to all citizens children not just wealthier families who can afford school choice without a voucher system
  • I oppose CRT in the schools and in our military.
  • I support the Heartbeat Law and protecting children in utero, along with passing legislation to protect individuals in the frozen embryonic state.
  • I believe In term limits for all political offices and a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget to stop the out of control spending. I believe that Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act needs to be challenged as it allows Big Tech to suppress our freedom of speech. I can not advertise on Facebook/Meta, because the information about Covid is deemed “misleading” by Big Tech even though my husband Guy T. Burrows MD is an expert in his field. He’s a Neuromuscular Specialist, Immunologist, Neurologist and was Vice Chair of the American Academy of Neurology Pain Section
  • I have tried to differentiate myself between the other candidates by bringing up issues that they won’t even touch. I am not a politician; I am a person who wants to represent the people in the People’s house.
  • I am Candice C. Burrows. a Christian, a Reagan/Trump Conservative running for US House of Representatives TX Congressional District 8 in the Republican primary.

Response from Christian Collins

  • I’m running for Congress to champion an America First agenda and be a voice for the hard-working men and women of Texas’ eighth congressional district. We are in the midst of a spiritual and cultural battle for the heart and soul of our country, and I’ve been serving on the front lines of this battlefield for a long time working alongside our pastors and faith leaders by organizing prayer breakfasts, pro-life rallies, and educating our youth on the Conservative, Judeo-Christian principles our nation was founded upon. As a member of Congress, I will never compromise on Pro-Trump, America First policies.
  • My top priorities will be to secure our elections and border, stop critical race theory, and impeach “President” Biden.
  • The biggest challenges facing us is inflation, which is the result of incompetent leaders in Washington, unsecured and unmonitored elections, and an open southern border that is allowing drug traffickers, murders, and felons into our country. Crime is skyrocketing in Houston as a result of these things. In fact, murders are up over 70%.
  • Christian Collins has made God, family, and country the pillars of his life. He comes from a large Conservative-Christian family. His parents served as missionaries in other parts of the world and his father was a pastor for many years here in Texas. From an early age, Christian learned the value of hard work, persistence, and grit. He worked two jobs through high school, college, and grad school to afford his education. He holds a B.A. in Government from The University of Texas, and an M.A. in Organizational Communication from Liberty University. Christian is the founder of the Texas Youth Summit, a yearly conference dedicated to educating students on Conservative, Judeo-Christian principles. Last year, the conference had over 1200 youth attend and featured speakers such as Donald Trump Jr, Charlie Kirk, and Senator Ted Cruz. As a member of Congress, Christian will never compromise on Pro-Trump, America First policy.

Response from Dan McKaughan

  • 1. I am running for Congress for a couple of reasons. First (and this is a little tongue-in-cheek, yet true), I’m running for selfish reasons. I believe the Federal government has drastically outgrown its Constitutional parameters and is involved in far too many aspects of our daily lives. I want the government out of my life (my kid’s education, our healthcare, our cities, my car, my food, etc.). So I’m running for a position in the government to get the government out of my life (and everybody else’s also). Second, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States over 25 years ago. That oath doesn’t expire. We are on the brink of losing our Republic if we do not return to our founding Constitutional principles and put the government back in its very tiny and specifically enumerated box.
  • 2. We have so many problems to fix. It’s like the “Little Dutch Boy.” We have to plug the holes of uncontrolled borders, ridiculous spending (by both parties), inflation, etc. while we do all we can to reverse federal overreach through the elimination of unconstitutional agencies and bureaucracies (The swamp behind the dike). This is what will save our Republic: returning authority and sovereignty to the states and people, and let the states be the laboratories of policy they were designed to be. But we have to stop the left’s agenda to tear apart the fabric of our nation and society first, or we won’t recognize the America we love and grew up in.
  • 3. This district is very diverse (ethically, socio-economically, geographically). The issues in Polk County are different from those in western Harris County. But what unites us all, and unites this state and nation, is our Constitution and the freedoms and liberties it protects (as long as the government holds up its end of the bargain, which it is not!). Obviously, we need to stop illegal immigration through securing the border, eliminating incentives to come here illegally, and hold businesses and organizations accountable who encourage illegal immigration. We need to regain energy independence. We need to completely revamp the federal tax code to free up the taxpayers’ dollars and encourage small business growth (i.e., Fairtax). We need Texas parents to work with Texas to determine the best way to educate our children, not DC. I’ve said before there are too many issues to tackle, but it is through sound and fundamental constitutional principles of government that we can do these things.
  • I was raised in Montgomery, TX and graduated from Montgomery High School. I received my commission as a Naval Officer from the U.S. Naval Academy and spent 20 years in the Navy where I was a helicopter pilot. I retired in 2016 from military service and have been VP of our small construction business (Apcon Services, LLC) since coming back to Montgomery in 2016. I am married to my high school sweetheart and have two teenage children.

Response from Taylor M. Whichard IV

  • 1). I’m running to protect and preserve our freedoms for the future generations. We are heading down a dangerous path, and it’s time for hard working Americans to stand up and speak out. I want to give the power back to the American people, and serve my constituents as was originally intended by our Founding Fathers.
  • 2). Education reform, securing our border and election integrity, and uncontrolled federal spending.
  • We need to implement school choice at the national level. We also need to remove the Department of Education and give the authority back to states and local jurisdictions. Education is the foundation of our great nation. We need to get back to the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic and factual based history.
  • I will support funding to finish the wall on Texas Soil. We also need to provide our Border Security personnel with the tools and funding they need to protect our border.
  • State issued ID’s are needed in order to vote. All mail-in ballots need to be treated like an absentee ballot and should be reserved for the elderly and disabled. Without a trustworthy election system, people will cease to vote. Once that happens, then a tyrannical government is soon to follow.
  • The amount of federal spending has been insulting. It’s time for us to demand a balanced budge. This rapid inflation we are seeing is a result of COVID fear-mongering and poor fiscal responsibility.
  • 3). The biggest concerns in District 8 are voting out career politicians and RINO’s, school choice, border security, election integrity, fiscal responsibility, and abortion.
  • 4). I grew up in Sugar Land. I have a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Texas tech. I’m the husband to a beautiful and supportive wife, and a proud father of 3 young men. On top of my campaign, I am currently still working full time as the Director of Public Works, I am on the SJRA GRP Review Committee, and my family is a part of Family Promise of Montgomery County.
  • I spent 10 years in the oilfield working as a Drilling Engineer. I then switched career paths and went into municipal government as a City Engineer and Director of Public Works. In the role as City Engineer, I also worked on a secured military installation building a water plant. As the acting Director of Public Works for the City of Willis, I am in charge of producing annual budgets and operating within budgetary constraints. I am also in charge of all roads, storm drain, parks, water and sewer. In addition to working, we also own several cafe & bakeries.

Response from Jonathan Mitchell

  • Please tell us why you are running for Congress? I decided to run for Congress because our current politicians have forgotten about the blue collar men and women who are the back bones of America, and they did stand up for the oil and gas workers when the Biden administration shut down the Keystone pipeline and drilling.
  • What are the top priorities you’d like to address if elected to office? It would be to bring us back to being Energy independent, securing our border, lowering taxes and to co-sponsor H.R. 25 which is the FAIRTAX plan.
  • What are the biggest challenges facing District 8, impacting voters in your area? job security with good benefits and pay, as well as the inflation of illegal immigrates.
  • Please tell us briefly about your background, (job, etc.) I grew up in Montgomery County, in a blue-collar household. I am a pipeliner and could not be prouder to be a blue-collar man myself. I know what hard work and long hours are like. I take pride in what I do, and I have an extreme amount of passion for the Oil & Gas industry. I’m a father and I love being close to my family and providing for them.

Response from Chuck Montgomery

  • America needs a fresh start. There is so much rot in our system. The first step in removing that rot is by getting rid of career politicians. If I could do one thing in Congress then retire, it would be imposing term limits on Congress. And we can’t stop there either. We have to time limit EVERYONE that works in our branches of government, including staff. If you don’t, nothing changes. You have to treat government like a grocery store and rotate your stock before it starts to spoil. You can’t get fresh blood, faces, or ideas in the door, if rotten congressmen are rooted in their seats for decades. This is by far the main reason I am running and number one priority. If it passes, I won’t run another term, knowing I left Congress better than when I found it, and would be fine letting a new face with new ideas take the lead over the next obstacle we face. To be completely honest, I loathe politicians and want to ruin their fun. The top priority for me, as mentioned above, is term limits (House 6 years total and Senate 12 years total). We also need to root out perks that Congressmen receive that allow them to leave Congress as millionaires while on a government salary. There are reports of insider trading all throughout the House and Senate, but Congress gets away with it because they make the rules. Every one of them should be prosecuted for it as well. Serving as a member of Congress should be an honor that requires hard work for The People, not a get rich quick scheme and life long career. Second, Social Security has to be addressed. We can’t kick that can down the road anymore. Our seniors deserve better than that. The fastest route to refilling its coffers is by putting a federal tax on marijuana. It’s already legal in half the nation and it only takes one person to make it legal across the rest of it. Federally legalize marijuana, place the tax on it in a lockbox Congress can’t touch, and then states can make up their own minds on what they want to do about marijuana. Also increase the amount of income retirees can earn. Grandma selling handmade quilts on Etsy shouldn’t incur the wrath of Uncle Sam.
  • Finally, college tuition needs fixing. Where does all the money colleges receive go, including donations? Where does all the sports money from football and so on go? I want to investigate it and propose capping college tuition for public colleges at affordable rates or pulling federal funding from colleges that refuse. All credits transfer. Cap student loans at 3%. Promote trade schools. The value of “elite” colleges are inflated, only because they’ve increased their rates to appear more “exclusive”. Truth is, to anyone that’s not a prude, the name of the college doesn’t matter. You just need the piece of paper at the end. I don’t care if we force UT semester hour rates to be as low as Lone Star College. I don’t care about their “prestige”. I only care that public college is affordable for the PUBLIC, or strip federal funding if the public college won’t comply. They’ve ripped off citizens long enough. Those are my priorities and I see them as being huge challenges for our district. The other main issue I hear about from constituents is crime. Federally, we could introduce a “bail tax” in a “three strikes” manner, where we add a non-refundable federal bail on top of the state/local bail for repeat offenders (violent crime/theft), even if the judge doesn’t enforce a bail requirement. If someone goes to jail three times and the judge wants to immediately release them without bail, a $20k non-refundable federal bail would likely keep them behind bars. The legality would have to be worked out, but we can think outside the box to ensure citizens’ safety. As far as the criminal is concerned, if they can do the crime, they can pay the fine, or do the time.
  • As far as my background, I’m a born and raised Texas farm boy out of Woodville, disabled Air Force veteran, graduate of Redstone College (aviation mechanics trade school) in Broomfield Colorado, and 14 year oilfield hand. I got laid off in 2020 because Covid brought international travel to a halt, so I couldn’t return to my regular rotation off the coast of Ghana. Soon after, I began a Voice Over business call Morally Gray Creations and now voice commercials, animation, video games and explainer videos. I’m not and have never been a politician and am self funded because I don’t want to spend other peoples’ money. I decided to run because I believe in my goal to help this country, not for personal gain. I do have a full write up of my agenda if you would like the document. It’s pretty extensive and are my own personal thoughts, without being bounced off others. Some are ideas I would push in local government and others are what I would like to accomplish in Congress.

Response from Jessica Wellington

  • Please tell us why you are running for Congress. As a Mom, I’m concerned about the future of our country. Politics has become very divisive, and each side is unwilling to compromise to reach solutions for hard-working Americans. I’m stepping up because I love my country, and I’m enthusiastic about working to make life better for the people of TX-08. In addition, I want to inspire and encourage more Republican women to run for federal office.
  • What are the top priorities you’d like to address if elected to office? As a member of Congress, I would prioritize my work based on the needs of my constituents. My first priority will be establishing district outreach programs. For me, the most effective congressional offices are those that offer the best constituent services. In Washington, D.C., my top priority would be to ensure the federal government respects the Constitutional rights of Americans. It will also be a priority to do everything within my power to support Texas in its border security efforts. We need to curtail the influx of people and repair our broken immigration system. In addition, we need to address the American supply chain problems. We need to bring manufacturing back to our own country, especially, for critical items.
  • What are the biggest challenges facing District 8, impacting voters in your area? There are many challenges facing District 8. Flood mitigation is a big concern. After past disasters, we need to mitigate the effects of bad weather events and make sure FEMA responds in a timely fashion. Also, once disasters occur, it is imperative that federal emergency funds get to the actual residents as soon as possible. In addition, I have heard from teachers that the border situation is impacting some of the school districts in TX-08. The schools aren’t equipped to handle the large number of kids coming in who don’t speak English as a first language. I’ve also talked to small business owners who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. They still need help getting back on their feet.
  • Please tell us briefly about your background, (job, etc.) I have the necessary education and career experience. I have a bachelor’s degree in political science from Baylor University and a master’s degree in business management from Texas A&M Commerce. I have a background in community news, which allows me to ask the hard questions and find answers. I’m also a small business owner. Most importantly, I’m the only candidate who has held a leadership staff position (district director) in a congressional government office. I understand how the government works and will be able to hit the ground running for all of my constituents.

We have not had a response to our questions yet from Betsy Bates, Jonathan Hullihan, Morgan Luttrell, or Mike Philips’ campaigns.

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