by: MATT MOLINAR/Opinion Editor
Political issues, social problems and the state of the country were among the many topics discussed during a debate at South Plains College featuring Republican congressional candidates
The event featuring eight candidates running to represent District 19 was held on Feb. 22 at the Tom T. Hall Recording and Production Studio in the Commercial Music Building on the Levelland campus.
Candidates for the congressional race to replace Randy Neugebauer, who has been in office since 2003, include: Glen Robertson, mayor of Lubbock; Jodey Arrington, former adviser to George W. Bush and former Texas Tech vice chancellor; Greg Garrett, bank president and realtor; John Key, veterinarian and retired army officer; Dr. Donald May, surgeon and farmer; Michael Bob Starr, former Air Force officer; Derenda Warren, home healthcare company executive and registered nurse; and Jason Corley, businessman and oilfield worker.
The forum began as the moderators, Janna Holt-Day, professor of speech, Grant Dewbre of the Student Government Association, and Jeff Klotzman, news anchor for KJTV in Lubbock, asked the candidates a core question. Each candidate was given 45 seconds to respond.
Holt-Day asked the first question: “When any candidate says that he or she wants to fight terrorism, a broad theme of toughness comes to mind. What does fighting terrorism mean to you?”
Starr answered first by giving his personal experience from having served in the military. He then began to explain how he would like to deploy troops on land in the Middle East to keep our homeland safe.
Next to answer was Garrett with a very similar response, also giving his experience with war.
Corley followed by asking, “Why is it that we seem to declare war on inanimate objects?The war on terrorism, drugs, and poverty. Every time we declare war, it seems to get bigger. We need to define who the terrorists are.”
Key followed Corley by agreeing that terrorists could be anywhere, and we need to specify who terrorists are.
Robertson followed by stating that nobody on the panel would be able to individually fight terrorism
“You’re one voice out of 135,” Robertson said. “I think what we need is leadership. It’s easy to sit up here and talk big, but we need to begin building relationships.”
Next to answer was Warren, who shared her experience of helping injured troops. She also included that if terrorism is isolated, it can be stopped.
Lastly, Arrington answered by stating that more troops are needed on the ground in the Middle East.
“We’ve got to get back to the Ronald Regan policy of peace through strength,” Arrington said.
The next core question, asked by Dewbre, was, “With leading presidential candidates proposing to make college more affordable, do you think that the federal government has a key role in making college more affordable than it currently is?”
Each candidate answered with a similar opinion. They each agreed that education was an important value in society, but in order to allow competition to thrive, the government needs to allow students to pay their own tuition.
The last core question, asked by Holt-Day, was written by a sophomore psychology major named Brandi. She asked, “Since you are all Christians, how has your faith influenced your position on undocumented immigration?”
With each candidate having the same views on the issue, each answer was within the same context, agreeing that they each hold religion as a central part of their lives, but regardless, they would fight for immigration reform.
Following the core questions were a set of individual questions, tailored to each candidate’s personal views, as well as things they may have done before, and while running their campaigns. Candidates were given one minute to answer their questions.
Following the individual questions was another set of core questions, beginning with a question involving anchor babies.
Each candidate agreed that anchor babies, or babies born illegally in the United States, are also illegal, undocumented immigrants. Following the Core question was another set of individual questions for each candidate.
In closing, candidates were asked to give final statements to the audience in last attempts to shift the voters’ opinions.
Starr began the closing statements by giving thanks to all parties involved in the process of hosting the debate.
“Talk is cheap,” Starr said. “I will talk about the issues that matter to us, and I will talk about solutions. I want to go to DC to make a difference.”
Robertson talked about the uniqueness of the forum.
“I have a proven ability to make tough decisions, and I am uniquely qualified for this job,” Robertson explained. “I will not forget where I came from.”
Key began his closing statements by also thanking SPC and complimenting the uniqueness of the forum and the candidates.
May closed by stating what he thinks best qualifies him for Congress.
“Barack Obama is continuously destroying our nation, and Bernie and Hillary will do the same,” May said. “We need to act quickly to secure our national security.”
Corley ended by talking about how the community would benefit from having a blue-collar candidate.
“One thing that makes me stand out from the other candidates is the fact that I’ve never run for office,” Corley explained. “I am a regular person like you who wants to make things in America different.”
Warren explained that she was the only candidate who was asked to run for office by her community.
“I know agriculture and healthcare,” Warren said. “This is our time to show that agriculture is coming through. I want to take our Texas values to Washington.”
Garret also began by thanking SPC.
“I am running as the Christian, conservative businessman,” Garret said. “Washington wants our guns. We need to make sure that we have guns. We haven’t discussed that situation.”
Lastly, Arrington closed by stating why he believes he is most qualified for Congress.
“I love this place, and it is my home,” Arrington said. “I want to fight for our people and our way of life. I have a unique set of experience. Send a real leader to Washington.”