• Editor’s note: Four attempts were made to contact Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City), but contact attempts were not returned as of press time Friday. For this reason, only Bill Brannon’s (D-Como) answers are included in this article.
On Nov. 4, house district Texas-02 will elect a new representative. Vying for the seat are Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City) and Bill Brannon (D-Como). The News-Telegram caught up with Brannon and asked him about his passions, goals and the difficulties of running for office.
• Business experience: Owner and president, Brannon and Associates consulting
• Political experience: Senior advisor, Texas Democratic Party, district director to U.S. Congressman Jim Chapman
What issues are most important for you during the campaign?
“More than anything, I care about public education, primarily secondary and higher education. I am very much a public education enthusiast, and I’m very much anti-voucher and in favor of improving our public schools. That’s where most of us can get the best education we can to achieve our God-given potential. We need better partnerships with our community colleges, corporate certifications and apprenticeships. I’m in favor of paying our teachers what they ought to be paid and making our public schools the best we possibly can.
“It’s going to be a challenge without adding any extra property taxes, but we’ve got to figure out a way to do it. We’ve got to improve our public education.”
What issues do you expect your opponent(s) to focus on?
“I don’t see how you can represent a district where we rely so heavily on our public schools and be endorsed entirely by the voucher lobby, as my opponent is. I just don’t understand that mindset.
“We differ in all sorts of ways, and there are very few issues where we’re not different.
“Bryan [Slaton] has thrown in with nontraditional theories…. He’s trying to keep [Governor Greg] Abbott from extending early voting by a week and allowing people to drop off the ballot by mail… I have no idea why you’d file that suit. That makes it both less convenient and less safe for constituents you claim you want to represent to vote. Why would you do that?
“Bryan [Slaton] wants to represent an ideology, and I want to represent a constituency. We’re way different.”
Once you get elected, what would your priorities be?
“I’m in favor of expanding Medicare. I think Texas’ failure to expand Medicare is inexplicable. The counties are now spending more on indigent [poor or needy] healthcare that it would still be cost effective for the state. We would be covering several million Texans that are not currently covered. Five thousand Texans a year would be staying alive.
“Our health insurance would be lower. Our health premiums would be lower. The cost of using our municipal hospitals would be lower. We’re doing it for politics and no other reason, and it makes no sense. …We need to get back to politics in Texas where you serve your constituents before your ideology.
“I also want to work on the rural economy and strengthening that. We need rural broadband. We need outreach for economic opportunities through our educational opportunities. Our community colleges could entice economy into rural areas. We’re in a position to try to help people build the workforce that would suit them if they would come here and create jobs. …I can fight the bureaucracy and the legislature, and I have dealt with solving individual problems at the individual level.”
How did you decide to run for the seat?
“I believe in people, and I believe all people have rights, and I don’t think that makes me liberal. I call it ‘applied Christianity.’ …
“For the most part between my opponent and I, I am going to be on the more progressive side. But I just want it to work for kids and parents and constituents.
“Democrats fail to tell our own story. If you go to rural Texas and flip a switch and a light comes on, a Democrat made that happen. If your grandparents rely on social security, Democrats made that happen, and they made it happen with Republicans complaining about it. Democrats have worked hard for rural communities and agriculture throughout our history. I’m not embarrassed about any of it.”
How do you deal with negativity on the internet and from detractors?
“It’s harder now, but in terms of dealing with stuff, I’m not going to get into a yelling match with people on the internet. If someone wants to have a civil discussion about something we disagree with, I welcome the discussion. I engage with them. We might or might not convince each other, but we have the opportunity to learn from each other. If someone just wants to yell at you about something, there’s no point in getting in that match, so I don’t.
“I believe in Love the Lord thy God and love thyself, and I think we ought to get to both of them.”