Democratic run-off candidates debate before full crowd

Texans looking to change the tide of a historically red state and county held high hopes as they listed to Democratic Primary candidates talk the issues in a debate prior to a key May 22 runoff.

The standing-room only event, hosted by the Hays County Tejano Democrats and the Kyle/Buda-Area Democrats at Kyle City Hall, featured Erin Zwiener and Rebecca Bell-Metereau, who are in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for State Representative, District 45.

Also taking part in the debate was Chris Perry and Julie Oliver, who are running for U.S. House District 25. A debate was to occur between Joseph Kopser and Mary Street Wilson, who are running for U.S. House, District 21. However, Wilson was involved in a car accident en route to the event and could not attend.

Zwiener and Bell-Metereau often agreed with the Democratic platform, but differed on how to bring that change.

Both candidates, if elected to the seat, will be freshman lawmakers, a key component of the debate’s focus.

Bell-Metereau said her approach to policy would be to have patience and persistence, seeking out experts to help educate and learn about the issues.

An author of four books and university professor for three decades, Bell-Metereau said she is educated but will focus on learning.

“I will be someone who will know how to seek out expert help when it is needed,” Bell-Metereau said. “I’m not going to pretend like I know everything going in.”

Zweiner said she will look to find bi-partisan support from her colleagues across the aisle, putting aside her personal feelings.

“I’m good at learning the rules,” Zweiner said. “I see myself as someone who will excel in picking battles. There is a bit of a game to it.”

Healthcare was another big point of discussion and both candidates agreed that universal healthcare for citizens is both economically and ethically feasible.

Bell-Metereau said Medicaid expansion is essential, citing the need to provide healthcare coverage for people regardless of their economic status to ensure a better quality of life for all.

“Our citizens are one hospital bill away from bankruptcy,” Zweiner said. “We need universal healthcare for all of our citizens.”

When asked how each candidate differs from their opponent, Zweiner said, unlike her opponent, she believes in young people.

“We need to empower people,” Zweiner said. “We can’t approach the younger generation as we have all the answers and expect them to come to us. We need to ask what’s important to you.”

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