Recap: Denton County Democratic Candidate Forum

A candidate forum was held by Denton County’s Democratic Party Thursday evening during a board meeting. Seventeen Democratic, non-congressional candidates from up and down the ballot with a fair mix beteen those who have campaigned for months and those whose campaigns began days ago participated in the forum.

Current County Party Chair Phyllis Wolper began the night reminiscing on the shocking Alabama race from a few nights before where Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore who had been accused of sexually predatory acts with minors. 

“Skies are blue, blue, blue,” Wolper said. “If Alabama can do it, Texas can do it.”

There is an opportunistic mood with this being the most Democratic candidates running in Denton County in 25 years, according to Wolper.

Around 80 people were in attendance as the meeting took care of some housekeeping before spending the lion's share of time opening to the forum.

Amy Taylor, chairperson of Denton County Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign, and Ira Bershad, Communications Director, took time to motivate those in attendance until they handed the platform over to moderator Brandon Chase Mcgee.

Mcgee went down the panel asking each candidate questions in which each candidate received a 1-minute response time.

Andrew Morris, who is running for District 64 in the Texas House, during one of his minute increments talked about SB6 (the bathroom bill) and current District 64 Rep. Lynn Stucky’s part in it. Morris said that Stucky promised Amber Briggle, a Denton mother of a transgender son, he wouldn’t sign SB6, but because Stucky lacked leadership, he still signed it. Morris advocated for making real relationships with constituents and actually representing their voices.

Mat Pruneda, who is also running for District 64 was asked about his ties in Indivisible Denton and the transition from activism to politics.

“I’m not ready to make the transition from activism to politics,” Pruneda said. “I’m going to keep doing both.”

Laura Haines, whose campaign for District 63 is five days old, said she does not have all the answers when asked about gerrymandering. She is a former Republican who said she “woke up” and became a Democrat. Even though she said gerrymandering is a big issue, she said she doesn’t know everything but will research and do due diligence.

Her youthful opponent, Richard Wolf, was asked the importance of reaching the youth. After answering the question, he made it clear that his youth was not an issue.

“I will prove to all of you I know legislation, I know politics and I know how to make this state better,” Wolf said.

Michael Callaway, former Republican running for Justice of the Peace Precinct 4, talked about how he will communicate his Republican friends that Democrat is the “only hope.” Sam Ortiz, running for Precinct 5, reiterated in most his answers how he wants to be understanding, compassionate and wants justice for everyone – not only those who can afford it.

The race for County Judge, currently held by Mary Horn, showed a comradery between the two candidates. Diana Leggett, who is one of the candidates, said her and Willie Hudspeth are doing the race together to make change from the position

Hudspeth, her opponent, is a longtime Denton activist fighting for the removal of the Confederate monument in Downtown Denton and has been disregarded by the County Judge before. He said he was running to “have fun” and make people feel like they matter.

“I’m never going to make them feel the way this commissioner’s court made me feel,” Hudspeth said.

After a couple of questions for each candidate, Mcgee asked each candidate for a closing remark.

Adrian Ocegueda, who is running for Governor, said what he learned after being negligent of politics for a long time before his runs for other offices in Texas.

“When you neglect politics, the policies will neglect you,” Ocegueda said.

The evening ended by bringing up Will Fisher and Linsey Fagan, both running for the Texas’ 26th Congressional District to draw for a ballot position. Fisher drew a one and Fagan drew a four before they had other candidates follow suit.

The DCDP holds board meetings every second Thursday of the month.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Amy Taylor and Ira Bershad attended this meeting as representatives of Indivisible Denton. Changes have been made to reflect their positions within Denton County's Democratic Party.

Header image photographed by Tanner Tovar
Header image layout designed by Mateo Granados