Map | Texas House District 17
FROM STAFF REPORTSBarely more than a year ago, John Cyrier (R-Lockhart) squeaked into the Texas Legislature following a special election and runoff against Brent Golemon (R-Bastrop) for House District 17. The district encompasses five Central Texas counties including Bastrop and Caldwell.
Cyrier is a former Caldwell County commissioner who owns Sabre Commercial, an Austin-based general contracting company; Golemon is a technology and media entrepreneur aligned with the Tea Party movement. The businessmen are grappling a second time in the Republican Party primary on March 1.
Cyrier and Golemon answered policy questions for the Austin Area League of Women Voters’ primary voters guide:
John Cyrier (R-Lockhart)
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Texas A&M University
Experience: State representative; former Caldwell County Commissioner; board member for Capital Area Food Bank and Caritas charities; co-founded an education foundation
Brent Golemon (R-Bastrop)
Education: J.D., University of Texas School of Law; Bachelor’s degree, Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Va.
Experience: Co-founder of Gallery Watch Legislative Tracking Service; Legislative aide for Texas House and Senate members; Bastrop County Water Control and Improvement District board member
Q: What are the issues of the Child Protective Services program that you consider most urgent? For example, early intervention, budget, and caseloads?
Cyrier: We have a moral obligation to protect children in harm’s way. During the most recent legislative session, we were able to provide additional funds to support child protective services, which has not been supported at the level necessary to fulfill our duty to children.
Golemon: Working to insure a more expeditious process for caseloads. Insuring families are not subjected to multiple trials and hearings with respect to children taken from their homes.
Q: These topics are of concern to Texas citizens. Please discuss your position on: Voting, guns, sexual discrimination and access to healthcare.
Cyrier: I am a strong defender of the Second Amendment and the only candidate in this race endorsed by the National Rifle Association because of my proven record defending that precious right. Voting is important as the best and surest way for the people to keep the government in check and make sure that it does not trample on our Constitutional rights, including the right to bear arms. It is also the best and only way to right the wrongs of Obamacare, which is trampling on our healthcare freedom. We must be vigilant in the defense of American freedoms.
Golemon: I support all efforts to insure legal citizens are allowed to vote. I am a strong supporter of second amendment and and “A” rated member of NRA and TSRA (per questionnaire) and a license to carry applicant. The law should protect the rights of all citizens irrespective of your gender and not give preferential status to one victim over another based upon their race, creed, color or national origin. I am opposed to a single payer healthcare system and holding the line on the expansion of medicaid and would push for reforms as the program is on an unsustainable trajectory.
Q: The Legislature currently draws the district lines determining our voting districts (redistricting). Would you support a Citizen’s Independent Redistricting Commission at the State level? Why or why not?
Cyrier: Lines for legislative districts are currently drawn by the Legislature, which is composed of elected representatives of the people.
Golemon: I would support an impartial drawing of district lines coupled with an up or down vote of the plan from both houses (no amendments). The idea is to have the lines drawn outside the political arena but would insure the voters have accountability through the legislative process as they deserve accountability which is not available with decisions solely made by an un-elected commission.
Q: What are your legislative priorities for ensuring that all children in Texas are well educated?
Cyrier: I helped to fully fund enrollment growth in Texas public schools and also provide an additional $1.5 billion to restore funding cuts to public schools and improve classroom education. Along with these funds, I supported new accountability standards for Texas public schools, which rely less on standardized testing and empowers parents and local school districts with better metrics for success. I also voted to fill a budget shortfall in the health plan for retired teachers, who have devoted their professional lives to Texas students.
Golemon: The path to improving education is in fewer statewide tests, less teacher red tape and more local and parental control. We need to drive dollars back to the classroom. In 1970 we had 2.5 teachers for every administrator and today that ratio is 1 to 1. Dollars are being drained from our classrooms. We must fight unfunded mandates as local issues should be handled by local school boards and not Austin bureaucrats. Finally, we should expand parental choice through an expansion of charter schools, open enrollment school districts and taxpayers savings grants.
Q: What are your legislative priorities for responding to our environmental issues in Texas, such as water management, air emissions, nuclear energy, and renewable energy?
Cyrier: This past legislative session, I passed landmark protections for the local control of our groundwater, and look forward to building on this success in the future. I also believe it is important for us to protect and defend our property rights and the Texas oil and gas industry from federal overreach into Texas.
Golemon: We need to improve upon the regulatory framework to insure local control of water resources whereby we protect the water rights of all landowners and insure desired future conditions are maintained. We need to insure eminent domain is utilized for public good and not to promote business interest in the absence of the public good. We should maintain a regulatory process whereby all stakeholders are allowed input and those who violate regulations are held accountable. Finally, we should require all state agencies to provide a regulatory impact analysis for new regulations.
Q: What other issues do you consider the most important and how would you address them?
Cyrier: It is important to focus on improving disaster response and recovery, protecting and defending our borders, balancing the budget and cutting taxes, defending religious freedom, and promoting the Texas economy. In my first term as state representative, I am proud of the progress I made on these issues, which is why I was named a Champion for Free Enterprise, Faith and Family Champion, and one of the top-20 most fiscally responsible members of the Texas House. In my second term, I look forward to building on these successes and representing our district with integrity.
Golemon: The state needs to build upon the border control measures which were put in place last Session and remove all state incentives to illegal immigration. This would include the banning of sanctuary cities and the state funding for illegals to attend college. We need to pass an amendment which would tie the growth in state government to population plus inflation and we need to provide transparency to the rapid growth in local state debt which in 2013 was second only to New York.