With early voting beginning in the Republican primary election on Monday, February 14, Texas Scorecard asked candidates in the race for Texas House District 23 a series of questions to help voters make up their minds before heading to the polls.
Abel Longoria (No response received)
Terri Wilson (No response received)
The following are the full, unedited responses we received.
Why are you running for office?
Gurski: After having served in the Texas Legislature as a chief of staff to Conservative Rep. Dwayne Bohac, serving as a combat veteran in the Afghanistan War, and a former prosecutor, I have the knowledge and experience to best represent House District 23 and the issues facing our district. I was just shocked at the last two years with COVID, the summer 2020 riots, and the general movement of my generation towards woke-ism. It is time for my generation to stand up and fight back for our conservative values.
Smith: I am seeking election because we need people from our communities involved in our government. We have too many career politicians, which leaves a wide gap between the citizens and government. This is how we end up with too many laws that do not make sense and a bloated government. We need to restore power to our fellow Texans. I also want to advocate for our area. As a psychologist to veterans and first responders, my goal has always been to be helpful. This civil service opportunity will allow me to affect meaningful and helpful change on a large scale.
What are the three main issues facing the district you hope to represent? How will you address them?
Gurski: 1. Property tax appraisal reform. I am in favor of local option limitations on appraisal increases from 10% to 3% and/or biennial appraisals. 2. Education, specifically closing the learning gap created by school closures and online learning. I want to work with my local districts–each are unique and have their own needs. This is an all-hands on deck moment for our children. 3. Increasing our economic development to include expansion of the Ports of Galveston and Texas City, which are huge drivers of economic activity for both the tourism and oil and gas industry.
Smith: The three main issues that face our district are: election integrity (e.g. preventing ballot harvesting and voter machine security), safety (e.g. securing the border, supporting first responders, bond reform to keep multiple felons in jail while awaiting trial, keeping homes safe by addressing anti-flooding technology and keeping TWIA rates low) and school reform (e.g. continue to safeguard against CRT, provide school choice, and empower our young Texans to cope with life’s ups and downs).
Texans all across the state are reporting an ever-increasing property tax burden. Should the property tax system be fixed? If so, how?
Gurski: Texans all across the state are reporting an ever-increasing property tax burden. Should the property tax system be fixed? If so, how? Again, I support limiting the property tax appraisal increases on residential homesteads from 10 percent to as low as 3 percent. I also support biennial appraisals, that way a homeowner would only face 15 appraisals over the life of a 30 year mortgage as opposed to 30. I plan to work with my local tax assessor collector to craft legislation that will make the appraisal process more fair for all property taxpayers.
Smith: Yes, property taxes are a serious issue to ALL Texans. We need to cut frivolous government expenditures and empower our local counties and non-profits to address local issues. Traditionally, democrat agendas look to solve issues by raising taxes rather than thinking about Texas-focused solutions. It is also important to carefully consider requests for funding by large cities if their budget is out-of-balance and the city or county has been frivolous with their spending habits. Encourage small governments to seek self-financing for certain programs (e.g. bonds).
Should Democrats serve as committee chairs in the Texas Legislature?
Gurski: I am opposed to Democrats who abdicate their responsibility to the people of the State of Texas by leaving the State of Texas during session in order to go on a fundraising trip to Washington D.C. from serving as committee chairs.
Smith: We need STRONG conservative committee chairs. It is important for the Speaker of the House to properly interview and vet the committee chairs. Every committee is important to keeping our Texas Values and we need chairs that are in-line with keeping strong Texas values.
How would you characterize the state’s response to the coronavirus? What would you have done differently?
Gurski: Shutting down schools and small businesses were the two biggest areas. We knew early on that children were largely not affected by the coronavirus and we should have never engaged in long-term closures or allowed zoom learning. It’s also become clear that mandates are counterproductive and were widely rejected by Texans at large. We should’ve treated people like adults and informed them instead of mandating to them. Also, the government should never be in the job of picking and choosing which businesses can operate and which one’s cannot. Everyone’s job is essential. Everyone’s business is essential.
Smith: Chaotic. Initially, when the state suggested closing down, it was inappropriate to close churches and schools. Closing a place of worship is an infringement on our most basic rights as Americans and Texans. Mandates should have been outlawed immediately and medical freedom should have been ensured. Doctors rights to practice should be protected and our ability to keep our practices open without frivolous lawsuits. We are a free state, Texans are strong and smart people. The state needed to stay open and Texans given the freedom to make decisions for themselves.