Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo

SAN ANGELO – At Monday evening’s Candidate Forum, 10 democratic candidates turned out to apply for the job of the governor of Texas.

The Tom Green County Democratic Party hosted a two-hour forum as candidates: Grady Yarbrough, Demetria Smith, Andrew White, Cedric Davis, Sr., James Jolly Clark, Adrian Ocegueda, Jeffery Payne,Tom Wakely, Joe Mumbach and Lupe Valdez, introduced themselves to attendees and stated their position.

In the five minutes of opening remarks, the first candidate up was Yarbrough who stated that Republican Governor, Greg Abbott “is completely absent in that particular area,” when it came to down to health care. “We have been given an opportunity to participate in the Medicaid expansion program and he chose not to do so,” said Yarbrough.

The second democratic candidate was Smith, who got into the gubernatorial race because of issues such as the budget and civil rights.

“When you violate civil rights, it costs you.” “Your property taxes are going to go up.” Your business taxes are going to go up because now innocent people that were violated due process in the constitution are now confined, illegally.”

 The third candidate was White, an entrepreneur whose campaign theme is “to bring sanity and reason back.” “I know how to create jobs, I know how to tackle complex problems, I know how to build consensus in even the most difficult issues.”

Cedric Davis, Sr., the fourth candidate, stated at the outset why he believed he was the next governor of Texas. “My experience as the mayor of a city has helped my citizens that I served, get the things that they needed such as public waste, repairing roads, I brought in new retail—economic development.” 

In the fifth spot was Clark, who stated one thing he wanted to do was start the teachers out at $40,000, pay for them to obtain a Master’s degree and a Ph.D.; but they would have to teach in Texas for 10 years.

The sixth person, Ocegueda, graduated from Princeton University. Ocedguega stated that Oligarchy has taken over this country. “We have less and less voice in our government and that is causing a significant amount of struggle in our society.” Evidenced by the last bill that passed for a tax break for the extreme wealthy that benefited them to understand that we are in this environment of tyranny.”

The seventh person to speak was Payne, owner of five businesses in Dallas. Payne decided he wanted to run for governor because, “It’s not what you get out of life, it’s what you give back.” That quote he attributed to his housemother, Peggy, who influenced him when he was a young boy. “That’s why I’m running for governor.” “Your voice is important and is what needs to be heard on election day on March 6.” 

At number eight, it was Tom Wakely who said it was a time for a bold, progressive change in the state of Texas. One of Wakely’s progressive changes he favors is increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. “Income inequality is the greatest problem we have in this state.” 

Mumbach, the ninth person to speak, outlined three primary things he believed that were foundational. One of those important factors he touched on was that the Democratic Party needed to, “Remember who we are.”  “We used to be the wildcatters, the go-getters, we were the pioneers and people followed behind us.” Mumbach stated that was going to require new leadership with some vision and courage. 

The last person to speak was Lupe Valdez, a former federal agent and for the last 13 years the sheriff of Dallas County one of the seventh largest departments in the United States which employed 2800 people. 

“As the sheriff, my budget was anywhere from $140 to $153 million, so I learned how to handle a budget.”  And I learned to work with people who don’t always agree with each other but came up with solutions by sitting down together to work it out, said Valdez.

The TGCDP forum was held at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts from 7 p.m. – to 9 p.m.

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