Sen. Jane Nelson faces a single opponent in her re-election bid to serve District 12 in the Texas Senate.
No one opposed Nelson, 61, of Flower Mound, during the Republican primary. She faces only a Fort Worth Libertarian, Jack Betz, 53, a pizza delivery driver and concealed handgun firearms instructor, on Election Day.
Those elected to serve in the Texas Senate serve six-year terms. Nelson has served since 1993. A former teacher and businesswoman, she served two terms on the State Board of Education before joining the Texas Legislature.
District 12 covers southern Denton and parts of northern Tarrant Counties. Texas voters will head to the polls voting in precincts that were drawn by a three-judge panel in San Antonio federal courts.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has appealed a federal appeals court decision that found the Texas Legislature discriminated against voting minorities in the last session when it redrew maps. Many experts expect the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the matter.
Early voting continues through Nov. 2. Denton County voters can cast their ballot at any of 17 polling places located throughout the county. Voting is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday. This weekend, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Polls will be open for extended hours, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 6.
Nelson declined an interview through a staff member, and instead e-mailed quotes on several issues the legislature faces in its next session, which begins Jan. 8.
On public education’s impact on the state budget, Nelson wrote that every child deserves access to a quality education.
“Education will take center stage, and I will be engaged in school finance discussions, drawing on my experience as a former teacher, parent and business owner who has been directly impacted by our tax policies,” Nelson wrote.
Funding alone won’t solve all the problems, she wrote. Support for teachers, parental involvement and restoring classroom discipline also play a role.
On the impact of health and human services on the state’s budget — Nelson is the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee — she said the state needs relief from Medicaid restrictions as it provides important services to seniors, children and people with disabilities.
“I have authored numerous bills to reduce fraud, waste and inefficiency to prevent these programs from diverting funds away from other priorities,” she wrote. “In addition, I have fought to protect Texas’ state sovereignty rights in the face of federal interference.”
In an interview, Betz said he didn’t fully agree with the Libertarian Party’s platform that questions government’s role in providing education.
“We need to be in the business of education — I believe in public education,” Betz said.
However, Betz called problems in health and human services a “private sector problem.”
“I’m sympathetic — people need decent health care and housing; no one should go to bed hungry,” Betz said. “But we have to break this endless cycle of dependency.”
Just because someone makes more money doesn’t mean the government is entitled to dig into that person’s pocket, Betz said.
To solve the state’s budget problems, he said the legislature needs to start by cutting revenue 25 percent and then demanding state agencies cut their budgets across the board.
“You have to do without if you don’t have the money,” Betz said.
He said he joined the Libertarian Party after he saw that the Republican Party wasn’t delivering on its pledge to cut down the size of government and was increasingly legislating people’s private lives.
A former member of the military police, he sees “nanny state” rules as a burden on law enforcement.
“They have better things to do,” Betz said.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 12
JANE NELSON (I)
• Hometown: Flower Mound
• Age: 61
• Born: Hamilton, Ohio
• Education: bachelor’s degree, University of North Texas, 1972
• Experience: former teacher and businesswoman
JOHN A. “JACK” BETZ
• Hometown: Fort Worth
• Age: 53
• Born: Waterloo, Iowa
• Education: diploma, West Waterloo High School, 1978; associate’s degree in police science, Hawkeye Institute of Technology, 1980
• Experience: military police, U.S. Army, 1981-83; delivery driver, 1986-present, and concealed handgun firearms instructor