by MATT MOLINAR//Editor-in-Chief
Drew Landry has hit the campaign trail looking to make a change for the future.
In May, Landry, assistant professor of government at South Plains College, announced his candidacy for representative of the 83rd district of Texas, a position that has been occupied by Representative Dustin Burrows since 2014.
An Indiana native, Landry graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social studies education from the University of Evansville. After graduating, he found himself teaching at an all-girls treatment facility from 2007 to 2008. He then went on to receive his master’s degree in political science from the University of Rhode Island in 2011. In 2012, Landry found his place at SPC doing what he loves most.
With funding that comes mostly from donations and his own pocket, at the heart of his campaign lies Landry’s passion for education. He says that as he began to pay attention to what was happening in the state, he decided that education needed to be emphasized.
“Education has always been on the chopping block,” Landry told the Plainsman Press. “That’s not right. This is an area where we are going to mold minds to get a better job, make a better life, and let them become leaders of the next generation.”
Landry says that, under current legislation, both students and teachers are getting an unfair deal. This is what sparked his interest in running for office.
“We need to invest in our students’ skills and trades,” Landry said. “We also need to make sure that if you want to go to college, that you’re college ready. What we’re doing now is producing very good test takers through standardized testing. We have to end that and let teachers teach their subject and give students a quality education.”
According to Landry, public schools in Texas are funded through property taxes. Approximately 60 percent of property taxes will go to education. He says the complicated process of funding schools needs to be simplified.
“Here’s the reason schools need your property tax,” he began to explain. “When the Legislature spends less and less on education, schools have to make up for that. Localities make up for that with your property taxes. You will end up paying more than you were previously. That affects those who rent, because rent goes up. Mortgage rates and appraisals go up.”
Landry says after the election of President Donald Trump, the idea of running for representative had settled.
“It was brewing in my head,” Landry said. “Then, in January, the Lubbock County democratic chair, Stewart Williams, called me and suggested that I do this, and around spring break, I said I was going to do this full on.”
Landry says the biggest complication he has faced in West Texas is running for office as a Democrat.
“It’s not so much that people turn you down,” Landry explained. “It’s hard getting access to people. Trying to get on the media. I’ve had them tell me, ‘Well, this is a conservative area. That’s our market.’”
However, Landry says that once he begins speaking with Republicans on issues regarding education and property taxes, they become less interested in the fact that he is a democratic candidate.
According to Landry, the campaigning he has been able to do thus far involves town meetings, phone banking, and social gatherings where he sometimes is given the opportunity to speak about his campaign.
When Landry is on the SPC campus, he strictly focuses on his job as a professor. When he leaves campus is when he begins campaigning.
“I have every intention to teach the material in an academic and professional manner,” Landry said. “I have no intention to campaign to anybody while I’m professor Landry. However, while I’m off campus, I will take that opportunity as it presents itself.”
Landry says that while his opponent, Burrows, was ranting to constituents about a failed bill he funded that would ban state-funded travel to California, he issued a response stating that there were bigger issues to worry about.
“We have a water situation that needed to be discussed 40 years ago,” Landry said. “We have schools that don’t have enough funding. Our roads are crumbling, and we’re trying to figure out what to do with wind and solar energy, and you’re concerned about banning state travel to California. You’re wasting time to do a moral quest and personal vendetta on California.”
According to Landry, he has learned during his campaign that farmers have growing concerns about water, along with other resources. He says that the benefits of solar and wind energy go beyond the environment.
“The benefits of clean energy are more resources for the country, and more money for the farmer,” Landry explained. “Once you start talking about aspects of everyday life, people will start to understand why there are so many wind turbines out in Gale, and Snyder counties. They’re bringing us resources. And that is what my campaign is about. Knowing the difference.”