Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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February 8, 2014

ELECTION 2014: State Representative candidate profiles

The March 4 Republican Primary election features a three-way race for the office of District 8 State Representative. In the race are incumbent Byron Cook, and challengers Bobby Vickery and Charles Morgan. The candidate profiles appear in ballot order.

Byron Cook

Byron Cook is seeking his seventh term as the District 8 Texas Representative.
Cook, 59, said he will remain a voice for rural Texas if he’s returned to Austin to continue to work for District 8.
When he’s not in Austin or elsewhere on state business, Cook is involved in banking, ranching, and numerous business interests. He was first elected to the Texas House in 2003. He serves as chairman of the State Affairs committee and is a member of the Calendar committee.
Cook said his experience as a state representative is a benefit for the voters of District 8.
“There are a lot of issues that are extremely important to this district and to the state that I’m involved in that I want to see through and see that we are successful,” Cook said.
From energy needs to complex growth and economic issues, Cook said the upcoming legislative session will have plenty of challenges.
“We want to make sure we have a vibrant state economy and local rural economy,” Cook said. Education and infrastructure are also high on the list of priorities for the state.
He said the recently approved Proposition 6 that helps fund future water needs for the state was an important gain.
“Ensuring that we have water resources for future generations is critical,” he said.
Texas also needs to make sure it has adequate energy generation capacity for the future to keep homes heated and cooled, Cook said.
“At the same time, we need to do it in such a way that the consumer has pricing they can afford,” he said. “This is an issue we’ve been working hard on.”
Cook also said legislators would be taking a “hard look” at political contributions, and who is behind the so-called “dark money” contributions — money that doesn’t come with disclosure of who is behind it.
“I think that the public has a right to know who contributes to anybody that goes into public office,” Cook said. “Overwhelmingly, people throughout Texas want us to address the issue of ‘dark money.’”
Economic development and growth remain important issues in the district, and Cook pointed to the expansion at Pactiv as a way his office was able to help drive growth in the district through a Texas Enterprise grant in support of the project.
“If we hadn’t been able to work through that issue and secure that, along with working with Atmos and Oncor ... we would have probably lost Pactiv, and we certainly wouldn’t have gained all the jobs about to come online,” he said.
Cook said he was also continuing to work on planning for the future use of the Corsicana Residential Treatment Center — formerly the Corsicana State Home — as a “transition” facility for youth preparing to leave the TJJD system.
“These are issues that are extremely important to this community,” Cook said. “By virtue of my experience and leadership, we’ve been able to keep these things going positive.”
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Bobby Vickery

Businessman Bobby Vickery hopes to take his experience and skills to Austin as the District 8 State Representative.
Vickery, 53, lives in Frost. He is from Tyler but has been a resident of District 8 for 20 years. He previously ran for State Representative in 2008 and 2012.
Vickery said if he’s elected he will be accessible to the constituents of District 8.
“I feel like District 8 needs a representative that has a district office, and is familiar with the rural area,” Vickery said. “I understand what the needs are.”
Vickery said he believes economic development is one of the biggest issues he’ll work on for District 8.
“Too many of our young people are moving away,” Vickery said. “We need good-paying jobs, we need to keep the young professionals here.”
Statewide, Vickery said the top priority has to be education.
And he says it will take a non-partisan effort in Austin to make needed changes in schools and in funding education.
“I think we start talking to the ‘boots on the ground’ — the teachers and superintendents — and figure out what’s working and not working,” Vickery said. “I don’t think we are engaging the right people ... (lawmakers) aren’t getting input from the educators themselves.”
Vickery said another aspect of education and education funding is the added impact of illegal immigrants on the school system. Immigration reform will be high on his agenda.
“The illegals are getting entitlements,” Vickery explained, such as education and health care, at taxpayer expense. “Somehow, we’re going to have to get them to pay their fair share of benefits that Americans provide, and Texas residents provide.”
Vickery added that entitlement reform goes beyond the problem with illegal immigrants.
“I think there are a lot of job opportunities out there, and 99 weeks unemployment is too long,” Vickery said. “We need to help people ‘want to work’ again and we need to reform that.”
Job creation, he said, will help fix that. And he’d like to see that happen in District 8.
“We have rail, we have water, we have affordable land, we have a workforce,” Vickery said. “We’ve got all the tools in the toolbox, we just need to be promoting it.”
Vickery said he will maintain an office in District 8 that will be responsive to the residents of the district, and take part in attending local civic and governmental meetings, such as city council, county commissioners court and Chamber of Commerce meetings.
“I’m going to ask you ‘what can I do for you?’ instead of waiting for the community to ask me to do something for them,” Vickery said.
“I feel like I’m a hard worker, and I’ll work that hard in Austin,” Vickery continued. “The people in District 8 are wonderful people, and I feel like they need to be represented.”
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Charles Morgan

Charles Morgan, 70, is a retired professional engineer from Freestone County who is seeking to serve District 8 in the Texas House of Representatives.
“I have the experience and the qualifications,” Morgan told the Daily Sun.
Morgan believes some of the biggest challenges facing Texas and the 2015 legislature include dealing with the state budget and the overall economy in Texas and the nation, while continuing to craft legislation that improves the lives of Texans.
“We’re very concerned about our health and safety and our economy,” Morgan said.
Morgan said two major bills he would like to see enacted in the next legislative session include legislation regarding noise pollution and microwave tower radiation.
“I’ve been helping people all over the United States concerning (noise pollution),” Morgan said. “It has personally impacted me ... you really get into it.”
Morgan also believes the state should become involved in the regulation of microwave towers, saying the emissions from the towers are causing health problems.
“We’ve got people passing out over in Palestine, severe headaches, just terrible,” he said. “According to the EPA it is a medical emergency, but the federal government isn’t doing anything about it.”
Morgan hopes to help increase employment through the creation of new jobs in District 8, including looking to alternative energy companies as prospects.
“Why not in Texas?” he asked. “As big as we are, as many facilities as we have, we could do a lot of energy conservation-type manufacturing.”
Morgan, who had previously sought office as a Democrat, said he is running as a Republican because he can no longer support the Democratic agenda. A number of Navarro County elected officials have switched to the GOP as well.
“You see in Texas so many politicians in office have changed parties,” he said. “I looked at the Republican Party planks and I can agree with 100 percent of that.”
Another environmental concern Morgan hopes to tackle — the tar sand pipelines in Texas, including the pipelines that run through Corsicana, Navarro County and Richland-Chambers Lake.
“The Pegasus comes through Corsicana,” he said. “It was designed for natural gas, and now they are putting double the pressure with the tar sand.”
Morgan said the pipelines and their use in transporting tar sands is an “imminent” problem.
“It could cause a catastrophe in Corsicana, and we don’t need that,” he said.
Morgan also voiced his opposition to the Affordable Care Act — known as Obamacare — and federal intrusion into the privacy of Americans.
“it’s too intrusive, it’s too costly,” he said. “Maybe the state of Texas can come up with a better plan. It wouldn’t hurt to look at that.”
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