Leadership style matters in GOP’s Stickland-Cargile Dist. 92 race

02/13/2014 5:58 PM

02/13/2014 5:59 PM

Andy Cargile is a man in search of a message.

The retired teacher, coach, principal and school board trustee is challenging freshman state representative Jonathan Stickland in the Republican Primary bid for House District 92.

Cargile, 67, has led a disappointing campaign, one lacking in substance but replete with attacks on his opponent’s lack of education.

That’s a shame, because Cargile is a candidate with a far greater depth of experience and commitment to service in his community.

Unflinchingly conservative, the pro-life, pro-business and pro-Second Amendment candidate would seek to cut wasteful spending, keep taxes low and limit regulations that would deter business growth.

As a leader, his most qualifying experiences are those acquired while managing the large, diverse and nationally-ranked Trinity High School.

Adequate and equal education funding, says Cargile, is the best way to help kids learn, get jobs and get off entitlements.

He is short on policy specifics and admits to “not having all the answers,” but cites open-mindedness, compromise and consensus-building as key elements of his leadership style.

That would be a departure from the incumbent, Stickland, 30, an oil and gas consultant, whose reputation in Austin was that of an obstructionist, although he might call it “principled.”

Stickland frequently opposed legislation supported by the majority Republican House. He voted against the budget, although he says he supported “elements” of it, and led an effort to defeat a water funding proposal (Proposition 6), which eventually passed.

The Tea Party darling’s voting record won him the title “most conservative member of the Legislature,” one he proudly wears.

Stickland is a polarizing character, but his populist message and straight-talking persona appeal to an active and vocal faction of the GOP.

Unfortunately, the candidates have yet to go head-to-head in a public forum or debate, although one has been scheduled for Tuesday, the first day of early voting. The primary winner will face Democrat Tina Penney in November.

Ultimately, the race comes down to leadership style, for which there is no contest.

In Cargile’s words: “Sometimes the easiest thing is to say no,” because saying “yes” means you have to take responsibility for your decision.

In this election, saying “no” to Cargile might be the easy choice, but saying “yes” to Stickland may lead to undesirable outcomes for the constituents of HEB.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Andy Cargile in the Republican Primary for House District 92.

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