Denton County’s primary runoff elections will be held July 14, with early voting ending July 10, and the ballot includes candidates running for the U.S. Congress, Texas Railroad Commissioner and positions on district courts.
United States senator (Dem.)
Mary “M.J.” Hegar and Sen. Royce West are running for the Democratic candidacy in the general election for the U.S. Senate. There they will face six other candidates, including Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn.
A U.S. Air Force veteran, Hegar runs on a platform that emphasizes combating partisanship and political gridlock.
“Everything from expanding access to affordable health care to addressing systemic racism is on the ballot in 2020,” Hegar said in an email to the North Texas Daily. “I encourage all Texans to take every precaution possible to safely vote, including wearing masks and following CDC guidelines. But we can’t let fear stop us from voting like our future depends on it, because it does.”
Sen. West has been a member of the Texas State Senate for 27 years. He represents District 23, which serves a portion of Dallas County. During his tenure, he was named as one of Texas Monthly’s “Ten Best Legislators in Texas.”
Sen. West did not respond to a request for comment.
United States representative (District 24, Dem.)
Candace Valenzuela and Kim Olson are running for the Democratic candidacy in the general election for Texas’ 24th Congressional District.
Valenzuela currently serves on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD board. Her platform focuses on fiscal transparency, access to education, and healthcare.
“Our government’s inadequate response to this pandemic has shown that there is a major disconnect between our community in North Texas and our leaders in Washington, DC. [sic],” Valenzuela said in an email to the Daily. “Now more than ever, we need leaders who understand the struggles working families face, and we can only elect those leaders if we get out and vote (in a safe manner!)”
Olson is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and her platform highlights foreign policy, care for veterans and access to healthcare.
Olson did not respond to a request for comment.
Texas Railroad Commissioner (Dem.)
Chrysta Castañeda and Robert “Beto” Alonzo are running for the Democratic candidacy in the Texas Railroad Commission general election, where the chosen candidate will face Republican James Wright. The Texas Railroad Commission oversees all oil and gas drilling in the state, which plays a large part in the Texas economy.
Castañeda is an engineer and attorney who practices in the area of oil, gas and commercial litigation. She runs on a platform that focuses on combating energy waste, pollution and abuse of natural resources.
“Democracy is more important than ever right now,” Castañeda said, recommending that voters wear a mask, social distance and take their own pen. “We all need to vote but stay safe while doing it.”
Alonzo served in the Texas House of Representatives for 26 years, representing District 104. His platform highlights public safety, regulation of pipelines and protecting Texas’s clean water and air.
“My number one request is that everyone wear a mask,” Alonzo said. “As we go vote by mail or in person we must take the precautions. The most important thing is not the election or the economy, it is our health.”
Texas Second District Court of Appeals (Rep.)
Judge Elizabeth Beach and Brian Walker are vying for the Republican candidacy as the Place 7 judge of the Texas Second District Court of Appeals. The court has appellate jurisdiction over 12 counties, including Denton and Tarrant County.
Judge Beach is a criminal judge who has served on Number 1 of the Tarrant County Criminal Court Texas for almost seven years. An attorney for 39 years, her platform emphasizes the need for a criminal judge on the court, as the only justice with a criminal law background is retiring.
“Since it’s a runoff, voter turnout is historically very low,” Judge Beach said. “It’s important for people to be informed in who the candidates are and what’s important in that election. Their vote counts, even when it doesn’t get the same media attention as primary or general elections.”
Walker is an attorney of 16 years. He served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves for nine years, where he was a Judge Advocate.
Walker did not respond to a request for comment.
Texas 431st District Court (Rep.)
Derbha Jones and Jim Johnson are running for the Republican candidacy in the general election for the 431st Judicial District Judge, which is located in Denton County. The chosen candidate will then go on to face Democratic candidate Diana Weitzel.
Jones has practiced law for 17 years, specializing in advocacy on behalf of abused and neglected children. She is one of the 16 Texan attorneys who are Board Certified in both Family Law and Child Welfare Law.
“It’s important [to vote] whether it’s during a pandemic or not because the local officials make decisions […] about masks, statues, families, criminals, civil disputes,” Jones said.
Johnson has practiced law for over ten years, handling cases that include business, family and criminal law. He is endorsed by the North Texas College Republicans.
“It’s important in every election to have your voice heard by getting out to vote,” Johnson said.
Texas is an open primary state and does not require voters to be registered with a political party to be able to cast their votes. Early voting locations and times can be found here. Click the party name to see a map of the July 14 election day voting locations for the Republican contests and the Democratic contests. More information can be found at votedenton.com.
All aforementioned general elections will be held on Nov. 3, 2020.
Featured Image: Signs for Derbha Jones and Jim Johnson sit near the voting location at Texas Women’s University on July 6, 2020. Image by Samuel Gomez