It was an unseasonably warm spring evening with standing-room only for those attending the District 2 Congressional Republican candidate forum held at Los Cucos Mexican Restaurant in Kingwood May 26, 2018. Both candidates clearly had advocates in the room, who were quite enthusiastic in their support.

The candidate forum was hosted by the Lake Houston Pachyderm Club and the Tribune Newspapers and moderated by Cynthia Calvert, owner and publisher of newspapers.

The forum featured native Texan, Republican State Representative Kevin Roberts, who has served in Texas House District 126, and Lieutenant Commander Dan Crenshaw, a retired Navy Seal and sixth-generation Texan.

Two native Texans vie for open seat

After three-minute opening statements were given by each candidate, they were asked five pre-selected questions and an additional three questions from the audience, followed by closing statements. Each candidate was allowed time for rebuttals.

During the forum, the candidates answered questions regarding Social Security, term limitations for elected members of Congress, the current welfare policy, their involvement during and after Hurricane Harvey, their positions on the unchecked spending in Washington, and their ideas on dealing with the growing federal deficit.

The GOP congressional hopefuls were almost parallel in their agreement on how to handle several of the issues.

The first question put to the candidates was: “There have been many dire predictions of the fate of Social Security if nothing is done to change the present formula. What are your plans to address the burgeoning retiree population with the reduced funding available?”

Kevin Roberts addressing the audience. Photos by Cheryl "CJ" Johnson

Roberts stated, “First of all, we need to continue to advance the Texas motto which is ‘less taxes, less regulations’, and get folks out in the workforce. When we create a business environment where businesses can grow, we create quality jobs. When we create quality jobs, we have more individuals paying into the tax base, i.e. paying into Social Security.” He also supports Private Retirement Accounts (PRA’s) where working individuals would be able to maintain a percentage of their taxable income and contribute into PRA’s that they would own, and would manage toward their future retirement.

The next question asked was, “Do you think there should be term limits for elected members of Congress? If yes, why, and what term limit would you suggest?” Both candidates were unequivocally in agreement on term limits and they both agreed on twelve-year limits which would mean two terms for senators and six terms for house members.

Lt. Commander Dan Crenshaw addressing the audience

Both candidates also agreed that our current welfare policy should include a requirement to work, where possible, in order to receive benefits. Crenshaw said it is a “common-sense philosophy.” He stated, “It’s important that we talk about the spirit of America. The spirit of America is finding purpose. If you cannot find purpose in your life, you lose your spirit and our country loses its spirit. Transfer payments and welfare programs cause dependency, and that slowly erodes one’s spirit and slowly erodes the spirit of our country. That’s a very dangerous thing.” He mentioned Maine implemented this policy and the state’s unemployment has decreased systematically.

Both candidates were then asked what they have done since Hurricane Harvey and what their plans were for the rest of the year to support a solution in order to avoid future flooding. Roberts claimed that he has been working behind the scenes even before the hurricane hit, by co-authoring a resolution during the legislative session to require the federal government to advance payment of $456 million to fund efforts to protect against surge around the Houston ship channel which he says would protect the city of Houston. He also stated that his office has been writing letters to the San Jacinto River Authority Board and to Governor Abbott.

Crenshaw stated that he has been in the trenches helping people muck out their homes, strip drywall, and aid in several clean-up scenarios. In addition, he and his wife have been very active in fundraising, and with the help of Mattress Mac, owner of Gallery Furniture, have raised money and much awareness for the plight of Harvey disaster victims. He is also in favor of dredging the San Jacinto.

Early voting for the May 22 runoffs began May 14 and ended on May 18, 2018.