Balancing the federal budget, dealing with voter ID and determining whether the nation’s healthcare system is working.
Those were among the issues addressed Tuesday night by candidates running to represent the 12th Congressional District: U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth; Democrat Mark Greene; and Libertarian Ed Colliver.
One key issue was money — and how to reduce the federal debt and fund needed programs.
“We don’t have enough money,” Granger said during a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Tarrant County at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth.
She noted that the key to a more balanced budget is funding top priorities, such as the increased military action in the past decade.
“We have to say what’s important to us,” she said. “We’re going to have to make some choices, and some of those choices will hurt.”
First on Greene’s chopping block, he said, would be corporate welfare.
“Private industry is doing just fine,” said Greene, a consultant and contractor, who added that the working class is falling further behind as the cost of living and the price of education rise. “Our society is changing. Our economy is changing. … We have to be wise.”
Colliver, a system engineer, said he would like to go to Washington and work to create a coalition to bring down spending. “We have to get back to the basics,” he said. “The money is there. It just has to be properly put back into the system.”
More than 100 people attended Tuesday night’s forum to listen to the candidates on the Nov. 4 ballot to represent District 12, which includes parts of Tarrant and Wise counties and part of Parker County.
Regarding the nation’s healthcare system, often referred to as Obamacare, Colliver said he would like to see it return to a voluntary program. Granger said it’s “not more affordable and certainly not more acceptable.” And Greene said it’s an imperfect program that has great benefits.
About the state’s voter ID law, Granger said she doesn’t understand “what the courts are thinking” so for now, Texans must “ride this thing out.”
Greene said it’s a “voter suppression law … to keep those who have a propensity for voting Democratic from showing up at the polls.”
And Colliver said that as a national candidate, he can’t do anything because it’s up to states “to make the decision.”
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the voter ID law will be in effect for the Nov. 4 election, saying it was too late to change the rules. Early voting begins Monday and runs through Oct. 31.
The District 12 seat has a two-year term and pays $174,000 a year.
Granger, 71, a former teacher and insurance agent, has held various elected jobs. A former chairwoman of the Fort Worth Zoning Commission, she served on the City Council and as mayor before being elected to the House in 1996.
Granger, on the Majority Whip Team, also serves as vice chairwoman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, as the top Republican on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and on the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.
Key issues in this race, she said in a Star-Telegram survey, include economic growth, job creation, presidential abuse of executive power and “President Obama’s lack of leadership on domestic and international issues such as combating the growing threat of ISIS and ensuring the U.S. continues to have a strong national defense.”
As for why she’s the best candidate: “I have a strong connection to the communities I represent,” she said. “My voting record accurately reflects the 12th District.”
Greene, 56, is a consultant/contractor for construction, development and renewable energy.
He served on the Benbrook City Council from 2001 to 2003 and also ran against Granger for this post in 2000.
He said in a Star-Telegram survey that he wants to serve in Congress to make a difference.
“Washington is broken and we need people there who are willing to focus on fixing it,” he said. “Money and partisanship have destroyed the political system and disenfranchised the people, and hyper-partisanship prevents representatives from seeking middle ground, which has ground the government to a halt.
“This is dangerous and the world is watching to see whether we can pull out of this death spiral we are in,” he said. “America has real challenges and must have a functional government to face them.”
He said Granger has been in Washington for 18 years and has become a political insider. His top priorities: political reform, water security and a viable national energy policy.
Colliver, 47, is a system engineer making his first bid for public office.
He said in a Star-Telegram survey that he’s in this race because “the people need to have a voice in Congress.”
“I feel it’s time for public officials to be in the public when they are back home,” he said. “For too long, we have lost that interaction.”
He said his top issues are personal freedom, overregulation and veterans matters.
“As a father, veteran and husband of a legal immigrant, I feel it’s time for the people to take a stand and send a message to Washington that the status quo is not good enough,” he said. “I feel we need to get back to the Constitution and stand for the principles our country was founded on.”