Incumbent State House rep J.D. Sheffield meets with voters
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Texas State House of Representatives candidate for District 59, J.D. Sheffield, spent some time on Monday evening during a meet and greet at Lil’ Tex Restaurant.
Sheffield, the incumbent, was first elected in 2012 and is now running for his fourth term in that office. On Monday, he gave a brief overview of his platform, calling it his “stump speech.”
“A lot of people wonder why a family practice doctor wants to run for public office. When I’m down in Austin, a few times I’ve wondered that myself,” Sheffield said. “We go about this a little differently. We want to make a change that’s positive for everybody in the district. Our platform has been the same since we started: healthcare, public education, and agriculture.”
Sheffield said his first aim is focusing on healthcare. “Being a physician, I think it’s vital, especially in rural areas. We need to work hard to recruit doctors, to keep hospitals open.”
“We are strongly pro-public education which means we are anti-voucher,” Sheffield said. “We always make that very clear. We are pro (Texas Retirement System). The state ought to write a check to bring TRS where it should be and remove stress and strain from our retired teachers.”
As far as agriculture goes, Sheffield said the eight counties in District 59 are very rural.
“There are lots of farmers, lots of ranchers. Ag is our economic base, everything is attached to it. Texas is blessed to have a very diverse economy. No matter what happens, they’ll always need the food and fiber form our Texas ranchers.”
He said after being elected, he asked voters in the district, to include county judges, county commissioners, city manager, law enforcement, how they’d like him to run his office.
“Quickly and uniformly, they said ‘we want you to be responsive to our needs, not go down to Austin and get caught up in what’s going on down there. It’s what we need is most important.’”
He also said that often, writing a letter to his office will get a response, as will a phone call. However, it is sometimes difficult to respond to email, giving the example that as many as 2,100 emails came in over the course of one weekend alone.
Sheffield also talked about his approach to looking at bills as they come through during a legislative session.
“I am working for everybody – Democrat, Republican, Independent. If it is something to help district 59, they expect us to work with them. If (bills) help people, if they help district 59, if they help Texas, those are good bills.”
Some voters brought up property tax issues, such as when a tax rate does not go up, but the appraisal value goes up.
Sheffield said that education finance reform was the key to getting property tax issues fixed.
“The fly in the ointment, they’ve realized, they finally have a plan for it is, public education taxes…They have realized until we get school finance properly done, they can’t fix property taxes.”
He is also looking ahead to the upcoming 2019 legislative session. One of those areas concerns healthcare, he said.
“Mainly, it’s medical insurance, pharmaceuticals, the cost of your medications, and access to healthcare,” said Sheffield. “You can have a hospital right here, but if your insurance has a $5,000 deductible, they won’t go even if they have insurance. The medical world has known for decades that if you keep somebody healthy, you save money in the long run.”