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May 8 - Race for Senate seat

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The Ellis County Press

ELLIS COUNTY – Saturday, May 8 marks the day Governor Rick Perry called a special election to fill Sen. Kip Averitt’s vacancy.

Averitt resigned from his seat March 17 due to medical reasons.

Three candidates are vying for the District 22 spot serving Bosque, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLen-nan, Navarro and Somervell counties.

Darren Yancy, a challenger who brought in nearly 40 percent of the vote against Averrit in the March 2 Republican Primary threw his hat in the ring first followed by David Sibley, former Texas Senator who retired in 2002 because of term limits and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brian Birdwell, a US Army veteran.

In order to run, requirements state you must be 30 years of age, a U.S. citizen and resident of Texas for more than five years.

All candidates were given the same questions in italics below:

David Sibley

1. Why are you seeking this position?

"I have been encouraged to run by many conservative friends including Congressman Joe Barton, State Representative Jim Pitts and even former President George W. Bush (also a voter of District 22).  My roots are deep in Ellis County, as my grandfather farmed here.  I was captain of the basketball team at Baylor, and graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry and began an oral surgery practice in the district. An injury ended my ability to practice oral surgery, so I attended to Baylor Law School and then worked as a criminal prosecutor in McLennan County. I have served as Mayor of Waco, and was elected to the State Senate for Ellis County and District 22 back in 1991. I served District 22 for 12 years, and then honored my term limit pledge and retired. Now, with the resignation of State Sen. Kip Averitt due to his health concerns, I am humbly offering my experience of getting results to again represent District 22.

"The upcoming legislative session is a crucial one for all families in Senate District 22 and for Texas. Lawmakers will be facing a list of challenging issues, including a possible $15 billion state budget deficit and the contentious task of redistricting. I believe I have the proven conservative track record of getting results, the understanding of the legislative process and the familiarity with issues of importance to Senate District 22 that will benefit Ellis County and all 10 counties in this district." 

2. What are your top three platform issues?

"In addition to the state budget and redistricting, I believe the top three issues facing Texas are job creation, education and transportation. I also am concerned about the over-reach of the Obama healthcare reform bill and about securing our borders and dealing with illegal immigration.  As the former chairman of the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee, I authored and passed economic development legislation under Governor Bush to create jobs and boost Texas’ economy. We also must have infrastructure for people and for goods to move. However, I oppose tolling existing free roads. We have to figure out how to meet the growing demands on our state’s roadways. Education is always a top issue in our state. We need to reexamine how we fund public schools and the practice of burdening our school districts with unfunded mandates." 

3. What is your goal for the first year in office?

"Stopping the over-reach of our federal government is critical to Texas. The work doesn’t start when the Legislature convenes in 2011. If elected on May 8 to complete the current Senate term, I hope to be assigned by the lieutenant governor to committees that will allow me to immediately contribute to the interim studies now underway on important issues. I plan to hit the ground running to make sure the interests of Senate District 22 not only are represented during the upcoming legislative session, but in the months leading up to it as the debate begins on the budget, healthcare reform, border security, illegal immigration, redistricting, education, water and other issues." 

4. Tell the readers a little about yourself:

"I am a sixth generation Texan with deep roots in Senate District 22 – my grandfather was a farmer in Ellis County.  My wife and I have been married 40 years and have three grown children and three grandchildren. We are long-time residents of Waco, where we are active in our church and teach Sunday school. I graduated from Baylor University, where I was captain of the basketball team. After graduating from Baylor College of Dentistry, I was an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for seven years until an injury forced me to give up my practice. While serving as Mayor of Waco, I attended Baylor Law School and joined the McLennan County District Attorney’s as a criminal prosecutor. I was first elected as a Republican to the Texas Senate in 1991, also in a special election. While in the Texas Senate, I served four sessions as chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee and oversaw passage of major state laws to protect patient rights through health insurance reforms, create jobs, restore balance to the civil justice system, expand the internet to small town and rural school districts and hospitals.  I also championed consumer choice in telecommunications and electric providers.  I resigned from the Texas Senate in 2002 to honor my term limit pledge.  Following my retirement, I operated a law and government relations practice. I closed my government relations practice on March 12 in order to run in the May special election for Texas Senate District 22."

Brian Birdwell

1. Why are you seeking this position?

"I am running to serve the people of Ellis County with the conservative leadership on important issues such as fiscal responsibility and traditional values, as well as fighting to limit the growth and expansion of both the federal and state government."

2. What are your top three platform issues?

"First, with Texas facing a budget shortfall, I am committed to balancing the state budget without raising taxes.  State government must reduce spending just as Ellis County families are doing.  Part of that fight is defeating ObamaCare so that Texas taxpayers are not burdened with this expansion of government.   The action by President Obama and liberals in Washington, D.C. violates our freedom, will bankrupt the nation, and is outside the bounds of the Constitution.  Fiscal responsibility is not only paying your bills but knowing what bills to incur. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re funding essential elements of government and then decide what’s not essential and reduce or eliminate those functions. When we have state surpluses - the state’s rainy day fund - we need to start returning a portion of those surpluses that were taken from the taxpayers. This affords Texans the opportunity to spend, save, invest, and generate economic prosperity rather than government hoarding what is the rightful property of our citizens. Next, I want to be a strong voice to protect private property rights and ensure that any taking of land under eminent domain meets a high threshold of public use and fair and just compensation for the property owner.  Finally, I want to be a strong advocate for other bedrock conservative values such as defending the unborn, protecting our second amendment freedoms, and respecting traditional marriage."   

3. What is your goal for the first year in office?

"In addition to providing leadership on the issues outlined above, I will ensure that all ten counties of Senate District 22 are well represented in Austin by holding regular meetings in Ellis County and throughout the district.   For an elected official to truly represent the people, he must hear from them.  I will make it easy for citizens to provide me with their views through town hall meetings and personal visits."

4. Tell the readers a little about yourself:

"I’m a lifelong Texan and a native of Fort Worth, and a graduate of Lamar University in Beaumont.  I served a 20 year career in the US Army with numerous deployments around the globe and a wide variety of experience that culminated in my assignment on the Army Staff at the Pentagon.  I retired as a Lt. Col. in 2004 and founded a non-profit to assist fellow critical burn survivors and wounded service personnel.

"I’ve been active as a conservative leader, working to promote our values at the local, state, and national level.  A lifelong Republican, I was the featured speaker at the 2006 Republican State Convention in San Antonio and was Keynote Speaker for the 2007 Texas State Presidential Straw Poll in Ft. Worth.  I also served as a 2008 delegate to the RPT State Convention in Houston and am the Immediate Past Vice President of the Hood County Republican Club.   I love my state, my country, and Ellis County citizens can count on me to be a conservative champion in Austin."

Darren Yancy

1. Why are you seeking this position?

"To help secure the freedom and prosperity for my family and the families of Texas against an over-reaching federal government and a state government following quickly in form."

2. What are your top three platform issues?

"States Rights, Economic Development for Texas through job creation and reduction of the Texas Franchise Tax, Restricting the uses on Texas Eminent Domain laws."

3. What is your goal for the first year in office? 

"Strengthen Texas’ ability to reject un-Constitutional  laws, Balance our budget and bring free market solutions to some of the issues we face in Texas economically, Revise the Texas Property Code to better protect landowners, Keep Texas and SD22 Republican in the re-districting process."

4. Tell the readers a little about yourself:

"After moving to Arlington in 1984, I worked fulltime as I earned a degree in Business Administration in Finance from the University of Texas at Arlington in only three and a half years."

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