Q&A with Democrat L. Sarah DeMerchant, Republican Jacey Jetton-candidates for Texas House District 26

Texas House District 26

L. Sarah DeMerchant D

Occupation: IT executive
Experience: Sarah DeMerchant is an IT executive and the founder of a software development company. The product of Fort Bend public schools, DeMerchant earned two degrees from the University of Houston by working her way through college. She designed software that helps companies identify and correct wage gaps so everyone is earning equal pay for equal work. In Austin, DeMerchant will work with Republicans and Democrats in order to get things done for Fort Bend County. DeMerchant will work to lower health care and prescription drug costs, improve public school funding, help rebuild the local economy and work to rein in property taxes. She will also work to end no-bid contracts.
Contact: www.democratdemerchant.com

What are your top five legislative priorities?

SD: Health care: Make safe, affordable healthcare available to every Texan. Public education: Give our children a stake in the future by increasing access to public education. Economic opportunity: Build a world-class local economy, and guarantee equal pay for equal work. Criminal justice reform: Inequality in the legal system must end. Supporting reproductive rights: Ensure women have the ability and access to make decisions their specific health decisions.

Why do you feel you are the best candidate to represent HD 26?

SD: I am the best candidate because I am in touch with the community. I have been block-walking for the past five years and listening to the concerns of the district. What I have heard is we need to rein in property taxes, finance the raises given to teachers last year and support local control. Being a product of Fort Bend ISD, I believe we must ensure our public schools have the best funding in the country. One thing I know for sure is when heading to Austin, I will stand strong for our beliefs while also working across the aisle.

What is the biggest challenge facing the district, and how would you address it?

SD: I will work to help rebuild our local economy so it works for everyone. My priority will be to push to ensure that Texas is there to offer struggling small businesses and families a hand up as the economy recovers. I will also work to expand unemployment benefits for those still unemployed because of coronavirus, push for tuition freezes at Texas universities and community colleges so students can still prepare for the workforce, and temporarily halt evictions and foreclosures.

How should the Texas Legislature respond to the coronavirus pandemic?

SD: Coming from a STEM career background, we need a data-driven and logical approach leading our COVID-19 response that will get us back to our normal way of life as safely and quickly as possible. We need to listen to our health experts. The Texas Legislature should utilize the existing infrastructure our tax dollars are already paying for, which is working directly with county judges-in our case, Judge KP George-and their local health and human services departments to track the virus and provide best practice recommendations moving forward specific to each local county.

How will you ensure school districts are adequately funded despite shrinking state revenues because of the pandemic?

SD: The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated how important our neighborhood public schools are, even while parents are helping to teach at home and teachers are teaching remotely. I will push to fund the previous given teacher raises and work to make sure families have the resources they need, such as access to affordable computers and high-speed internet for remote learning, and ensure teachers have the training they need to teach remotely or in classrooms with new social distancing policies.

Jacey Jetton R
Occupation: small-business owner
Experience: drafted and analyzed legislation as a legislative director during the 83rd Texas legislative session; owns two small businesses in Fort Bend County; former Army National Guardsman
Contact: www.JaceyJetton.com

What are your top five legislative priorities?

JJ: 1. I support reforming police departments to ensure officers look more like the communities they serve, to provide new de-escalation training and to require body cameras on all officers. 2. I stand up for our local police officers and first responders and will fight against attempts to defund the police. 3. I will fight to reform our property tax system and cut property taxes for our families. 4. I am committed to providing every child a good education and fighting to increase public education funding. 5. I believe in the American Dream and will work to ensure we have policies in place that best allows Texans to achieve it.

Why do you feel you are the best candidate to represent HD 26?

JJ: My family's story represents the American dream. Fanny and I came from very different backgrounds, but we are working together to run two small businesses and to raise our children to have faith in God and to have respect for our country. My prior experience working with legislation means I will begin fighting for this district on Day 1 to ensure we have safe communities, increased education funding, and that everyone has an opportunity to pursue the American Dream.

What is the biggest challenge facing the district and how would you address it?

JJ: We need to reform police departments to ensure officers look more like the communities they serve, to provide new de-escalation training and to require body cameras on all officers. We must also stand up for these men and women in law enforcement that risk their lives to keep our communities safe. In addition to keeping our community safe, we must strengthen our economy and bring it back to its full vigor. Our children deserve the best education to so that they can get good jobs, be our future innovators and start businesses that create jobs and opportunities in their community.

How should the Texas Legislature respond to the coronavirus pandemic?

JJ: The coronavirus pandemic has not only been a health crisis but has had devastating impacts on the economy and brought into question how government should respond to these emergencies. During the next legislative session, it will be important to address each of these areas and ensure we are putting Texas on best track to recovery.

How will you ensure school districts are adequately funded despite shrinking state revenues because of the pandemic?

JJ: Public education is a large percentage of the state's budget, and the reduction in the state revenue due to the pandemic will present challenges in the next biennial budget. Some of the shortfall can be filled by the remainder of the CARES Act federal funding. We must also work to ensure our public school system is efficient and that more of our tax dollars are spent in the classroom for our teachers and students. We can achieve this by reducing the administrative burden on teachers and by eliminating bureaucracy.

This article comes from our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Newspapers.