13 Democrats and Republicans spoke on their campaigns and values during the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Thursday afternoon.

The forum, which allowed candidates two minutes to answer two questions each, gave citizens in attendance the opportunity to listen to values from both sides of the political spectrum.

County judge candidates, Republican candidate Todd Little and Democrat candidate J.R. Phillips, spoke on what they would bring to the seat.

Asked what he would do to improve the lives of his constituents, Phillips said he would focus on health, safety and welfare of the citizens as the county judge.

“I don’t bring a lot of negative political baggage,” Phillips expressed. “I’m bringing a hard worker — somebody who is ready to hit the ground running.”

With previous experience as the mayor of Red Oak and as a small-business owner for 25 years, Little said his mandate is to facilitate the public justice system through four commissioners in four precincts.

“Ellis County is in a pivotal time of change,” Little explained. “We have a rich history and culture here in Ellis County, and if we’re not careful, we will lose it.”

The final candidates to speak during the forum were congressional candidates Ron Wright (Rep) and Jana Lynn Sanchez (Dem). The candidates were asked whether a "culture of hatred and divisiveness" stemmed from those who hold a public office.

Wright responded that passionate politics are acceptable as long as it doesn’t veer into the extreme. But he argues that isn’t most Americans, and it isn’t most Texans.

“My opponent and I disagree on issues, but we don’t hate each other, nor should we,” Wright explained. “Opponents don’t have to do that; I guarantee you most members of Congress don’t hate each other. But there are those voices that are loud, shrill, disruptive, disrespectful. Those are a problem.”

Sanchez argued that the problem doesn’t just lie in the country’s politicians, but the entire political system. The solution, she said, was to elect more moderate candidates.

“Our country is divided, and our leaders are divisive. I think the problem does stem from the moral backbone of some of our political leaders, but I think the bigger problem is our political system,” Sanchez said. “I am someone who has never sought public office. Yet I’m here because I’m very concerned about the future of our country.”

Asked what qualities she feels are important in a candidate for Congress, Sanchez said many officials had lost sight of the American dream and that is something they need to get back.

“Very few people in our community have the opportunity to build a better life for themselves the way that my grandparents did,” she said, referring to her family’s immigrant history. “That is because we don’t have healthcare. Our education funding is under attack, and we need to have proper immigration reform.”

Asked the same question, Wright summed his answer up in one word: conviction.

“There is no substitute for integrity,” he expressed. “There’s no substitute for being honest, telling the truth. And that’s more than just telling the technical facts; it’s telling the truth in a way that doesn’t mislead people.”

Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce President Sandy King thanked all of the candidates for their participation and encouraged residents to get out and vote.

“I feel very grateful that we were able to get all of the candidates in one room together,” King said.

The general election is on Nov. 6. Early voting begins on Oct. 22 and runs through Nov. 2.


David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX