Water, schools top public forum

Water issues, school safety and education reform were topics tackled by a pair of Democratic candidates vying for state offices during a June 30 forum.

The event, held at the Wimberley Community Center, featured Democratic candidate Steven Kling, who’s running against incumbent Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) for the State Senate 25 seat, and candidate Mike Collier, who will battle incumbent Dan Patrick in the Lt. Governor’s race.

Kling, who is vying for a district that encompasses six counties, including Hays, took on the topic of Wimberley potentially striking a deal with Aqua Texas to supply sewage lines in downtown. There is overarching dissent against the water supplier in the community.

State Democratic candidates Steven Kling and Mike Collier discussed water issues, school safety and education at a June 30 forum in Wimberley. (photo by Exsar Arugello)

“I will not take a dime from for-profit corporations because those companies always have a seat at the table and you never do,” Kling said. “Wimberley needs a community-owned system where local control can manage that system.”

Kling also addressed Houston-based company Electro Purification (EP), which submitted an application to pump 2.5 million gallons of water from the Trinity Aquifer. The candidate said EP would devastate the economy, and the company’s concerns are only with its profit margins that would not be invested back in the community.

“We are running out of water and we all know that,” Collier said. “We need our individual water rights protected because our source of water will always be an issue. Money spent on water conservation is money well spent.”

On a state-wide level, Collier said Texas is dealing with big out-of-state companies coming to Texas, which pay limited taxes and take profit margins back into their pockets.

In a room filled with retired and active public educators, the conversation changed to public safety in schools and how to prevent school shootings, which have been at the forefront of discussion in recent months.

“I am a proponent of the second amendment, but we need background checks and red flag laws that prohibit people who shouldn’t have a gun to have a gun,” Collier said. “We need to take sensible measures to prevent these tragedies.”

After the shooting in Santa Fe High, Patrick said more guns are needed in the classroom, Collier said. But after consulting with teachers all across the state, Collier believed more guns would be detrimental to school safety.

“Campus carry offends me,” Collier said. “Dan Patrick called two special sessions for the bathroom bill, but not for the shooting in Sutherland Springs. Texans were killed in cold blood, and if this happens again, he has blood on his hands.”

Despite the two candidates running for different offices, Kling and Collier said they are committed to raising the Texas economy locally and state-wide by holding corporations accountable by paying their taxes and reinvesting in communities.

“People all over the state are looking at their congressional districts because our democracy is in trouble,” Kling said. “I am running because I know I had to do something. We don’t care about the odds. We are here to make Texans believe again.”

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