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Democratic congressional candidate talks health care reform, LGBTQ rights at town hall

Health care, mass incarceration and LGBTQ rights were the main topics of U.S. House District 26 candidate Will Fisher's town hall meeting Wednesday night at Denton County Brewing Co.

Close to 70 people showed up to brewery and bar in downtown Denton to hear Fisher, a Flower Mound resident, flesh out his stance on such broad-reaching topics. And throughout his responses, he highlighted the challenges that he and other Democrats face in Denton County races that are historically dominated by Republicans.

"We have a ridiculous hill to climb," he said.

Fisher will take on Linsey Fagan of Keller in the Democratic primary in March.

The winner will face either incumbent Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, or Veronica Birkenstock, a Frisco Republican, for the seat in Congress.

District 26 includes Denton, Lewisville, Corinth, Highland Village and Little Elm.

Raised in Portland, Oregon, Fisher has been practicing law in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for several years.

He works as legal counsel for Commercial Metals Co., a steel and metal manufacturer based in Irving.

The focal point of his campaign has been a push for single-payer health care, which is essentially a system in which a single public authority pays for health care. The overall idea is to give all U.S. residents coverage for medical services, including mental health, dental and vision.

When asked how he would push this plan in Congress, he explained the advantages of cutting top-level positions at private insurance companies through a single-payer system.

"With this, the idea is to eliminate the cost of the system by eliminating those administrative roles," he said.

Several people who are active with the local Democratic Party showed up at the event. Amber Briggle, a LGBTQ advocate and mother of a transgender boy, recalled one of Burgess' town hall meetings that she attended this year. She said the congressman seemed "dismissive" when she asked him about the equality gap facing gay and transgender people in the workforce.

Fisher said he attended the same meeting and was equally frustrated with Burgess' response.

"A gay American can be fired and there's no recourse," he said. "That's not the America that I envision for my children to live in."

Another resident, Adam Daugherty, asked Fisher what he would do to combat mass incarceration of minority groups. Fisher pointed out the problem is felt mostly among black men and women.

He said he would first like to tackle bail reform to give people without financial resources more flexibility. He then wants to end aggressive "stop and frisk" tactics that, he said, have become intertwined with racial profiling.

Some larger metropolitan areas use such tactics to temporarily detain, question or search people.

Lastly, Fisher said he is opposed to privately run prisons.

"No one should profit from the jailing of human beings," he said.

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882. 

FEATURED PHOTO: Will Fisher, a Democratic candidate for U.S. House District 26, speaks during a town hall-style event Wednesday at Denton County Brewing Co. in Denton. Jeff Woo/DRC