Our recommendation in Texas House District 67

Plano and Allen voters have no compelling reason to exchange incumbent state Rep. Jeff Leach for Democratic challenger Lorenzo Sanchez.

Leach, a 38-year-old attorney, has grown greatly as a legislator in his four terms, advancing from a tea party-style Republican into a lawmaker who understands the limited but necessary role of state government and how to use it for the betterment of his constituents.

Leach notes, correctly, that he is the successful co-author of dozens of bipartisan bills that focus on nuts-and-bolts governing, like water infrastructure, fighting human trafficking, ending surprise medical billing and helping to bring greater funding to public schools.

Unlike so many in politics, Leach is also willing to acknowledge past mistakes and, when asked about his support of the divisive and pointless “bathroom bill” that soured the Legislature two sessions ago, he notes that he would make different choices today.

We appreciate a politician with the humility to address past error and who grows into the office. There may be no better example in this region than Leach.

His opponent, meanwhile, is deeply progressive in ways that this district’s voters are unlikely to reward. We couldn’t find major education reforms that Sanchez would embrace. The influence of the anti-reform agenda of teachers unions suffuses his ideas.

Leach, on the other hand, embraces the critical teacher pay-for-performance reform in Dallas, and he rightly notes that many low-income students in his district have benefited from expanded school choice. When critics decry “privatization,” they neglect to address why legions of low-income parents have chosen charter schools or otherwise fled their school districts. Generations of failed neighborhood schools have only deepened economic and racial segregation.

Like many progressive candidates this cycle, we found Sanchez, a 34-year-old real estate broker, also having to distance himself from an anti-law enforcement agenda of the far left. A top campaign staffer crudely demanded police be defunded on social media, leaving Sanchez to respond that he can’t be responsible for everything anyone associated with his campaign says.

If history serves, voters in this district will feel differently.

In this race, Leach is the stronger choice.

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Our recommendation for Texas House District 102

The Republican Party’s poor handling of the 85th Legislature along with the Beto O’Rourke phenomenon combined to turn out more than a few GOP legislators who needed to go because they simply weren’t serious about the business of governing.

But that same voter reaction also cost a few good legislators their jobs, and among them was Linda Koop, who lost the race to represent the 102nd district in north and northeastern Dallas.

Her Democratic opponent Ana-Maria Ramos, a 44-year-old educator and attorney, defeated Koop with grassroots organizing that built on voter anger over the GOP’s failure to legislate around important issues like school finance reform.

In this case, voters made a mistake, and they should return Koop, 70, to Austin.

In her years on the Dallas City Council and in the Texas Legislature, Koop has been a model of moderation and back-to-basics governing.

There are few people in government who can match Koop’s depth of knowledge about budgets, transportation and the arcane areas of governance often understood only by the longest lasting bureaucrats.

It is in these areas that Koop thrives, and her constituents tend to benefit because she is willing to wrangle with the details to bring back results.

She did so by ensuring Dallas got a fairer share of transportation dollars from Austin, by helping to lay the framework for what became school finance reform and by ensuring that Dallas’ public higher education institutions, along with UT Southwestern, continued to be fully funded.

Koop is classically conservative on fiscal matters. Low taxation and efficient governance are a mantra. But she also recognizes that state government has a crucial role to play in building up society.

Ramos is farther to the left than Koop is to the right in our view. And in important areas, such as education reform, we are less sure that Ramos would support teacher accountability and schools of choice. Parents in a district like this, where neighborhood schools have too often let children down, need more than one option.

If Koop has a fault, it is that she gets so tied into the minutiae of governing that it can be hard to follow her into the weeds and understand what she is proposing. She should ensure that constituents who are less informed than she is, and that is almost all of them, know what she stands for on every issue.

But her experience, knowledge and accomplishments make Koop the clear choice in this race.

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Our recommendation for Texas House District 113

The race for state House District 113 is among the most heated in North Texas.

The election of Rhetta Andrews Bowers two years ago to the seat vacated by Republican Cindy Burkett flipped this eastern Dallas County district from Republican to Democrat. Since then, Republicans have set sights on regaining this district, with both parties battling in every competitive district for control of the Texas House in January.

Our nod in this race goes to Bowers over Republican newcomer Will Douglas, 33, a pharmacist and businessman who moved into the district about a year ago to run for this seat.

Although Douglas’ views on small government, free markets, low taxation and eliminating unnecessary regulations on businesses align with this board’s philosophy, we found him to be evasive and combative, raising questions in our mind about whether he could work effectively with legislators. We also are concerned that he has no prior civic involvement in the district that he wants to represent.

If not for these issues, Douglas would be a candidate whom we could support. He reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of Texas and could inject youth and racial diversity into the Republican Party in Texas. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, Douglas, who is Black, moved to Dallas, purchased several small pharmacies and currently manages his own business, Crimson Care Pharmacy Group.

Bowers, 53, has been solid, though not spectacular in her first term in Austin. But she seems to have the district’s pulse. She has lived in the district for nearly 20 years, served eight years on the Rowlett Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and several years on the executive board of the Garland ISD PTA. She also was a substitute teacher, a legislative staffer in the Texas House and an advocate for healthy food options in her community.

As the first Black woman to represent District 113, Bowers last session served on the House Committees for Corrections, Juvenile Justice and Family Issues, and has spoken out for the need to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline and supports advancing women in STEM fields. She supported House Bill 3, which invested billions of dollars in public education, as well as bills to require an explanation of major changes in prescription drug pricing, to raise the age to purchase tobacco products, and to eliminate red light traffic cameras.

Our biggest disagreement about Bowers is on education, where she opposes pay for performance and does not appear supportive of expanding charter schools, both strategies that we believe are essential to improving student outcomes in Texas.

Politics isn’t for the weak of heart, but at times this race has been marred by harsh personal exchanges, including Bowers’ tasteless response to Douglas’ claim that Democrats tell minority voters they are “victims.” Instead of taking the high road, Bowers called Douglas a “boy” and said he needed a “whooping.” Given her history we find this both disappointing and surprising but would urge both candidates to check their tone.

Based on her long

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Our recommendation for Texas House District 108

There are certain critical issues that North Texas voters should focus on as they consider who to represent them in the state legislature.

First among these are a candidate’s view on public safety and on reforming school systems that have too long failed low-income and minority students.

In the race for Texas House District 108, representing the Park Cities and central Dallas, the choice is clear once you understand where Republican incumbent Morgan Meyer, 46, and Democratic challenger Joanna Cattanach, 39, stand on these questions.

Cattanach, an educator, has said that Meyer is too conservative for the district. We find the opposite is true. Cattanach’s ideas are too far to the left and risk setting back important progress on education reform while failing to support law enforcement in an era when progressive candidates would see substantial funding removed from local police departments.

Meyer, an attorney, is seeking his fourth term. He has developed into a capable and pragmatic legislator guided by common sense and a moderate conservatism appropriately focused on the state’s fiscal concerns.

Meyer supports bringing the state to a 50% funding level for our public schools, as does Cattanach. Both agree, rightly, that the passage of House Bill 3 in the last session was a crucial step forward in providing much-needed funding while relieving the share paid by local governments.

But their differences on education become stark after that. Meyer supports Dallas ISD’s major education reforms, especially the Teacher Excellence Initiative, a pay-for-performance model so effective that open-minded opponents like DISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa have become supporters. TEI is being held up as a state model, and we can only hope it is broadly adopted.

Cattanach opposes the reform and sings from a teacher union songbook that comes down to just “pay them.” She has no clear metric for how to distinguish strong teachers from the ones who are failing our children.

She also is an opponent of school choice, with flat opposition to charter schools and what sounded like shaky support for choice schools within public school districts. Taken together, these positions would hurt low-income students who are benefiting from slowly improving public schools in Dallas.

On law enforcement, Meyer was clear that if local governments follow a deeply progressive model and leave their citizens vulnerable by defunding departments, the state may have to intervene.

Cattanach would oppose such intervention. She is campaigning on criminal justice reform, but her positions on decriminalizing low-level crimes, bail reform and reforming police departments fail to address the complexity of these issues.

On oil and gas regulation, taxation and other areas of concern, we also find ourselves more aligned with Meyer’s moderate conservatism. He is the clear choice for this district.

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