Elections 2020Defunding the Police: Stances of Candidates in Competitive Texas Races

The Texan asked candidates in the most competitive Texas races to state their position on whether they support proposals falling under the umbrella call to "defund the police."
and June 18, 2020
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Since the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, protests have sprung up across the country. From them, a new call to “Defund the Police” has emerged.

While not one unified set of demands for reform exists, some common themes can be found at the forefront of the discussion.

The Texan asked every candidate, incumbent and challenger, in highly competitive state and federal races whether they supported or opposed the following proposals:

  • The complete abolition of police departments
  • Using funding to leverage policy changes in the police departments
  • Shifting large portions of funding to community resources

Candidates were given the option to respond in the following ways:

  • Yes, I support all of the stated proposals.
  • No, I support none of the stated proposals.
  • Or, respond with a brief statement further specifying or clarifying your position.

For the federal races, any seat which finished closer than five percent in its last election was chosen.

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For the state races, Rice University’s Mark P. Jones’ competitiveness ratings were used. Any seat classified by Jones as “Lean Democratic,” “Lean Republican,” or “Toss Up” are included.

Additionally, the Senate District 14 special election is included.

Their responses are listed below. If a candidate replied after the deadline, an asterisk will appear next to their name.

To see how Texas Senators responded, click here.

To see how Texas House members responded, click here.

To see how Texas’ Congressional members responded, click here.

CandidateDistrictYes/NoSTATEMENT
Lizzie Fletcher (D)7th Congressional DistrictStatement"As we examine the failures in our justice system, many are asking us to reimagine the role that police play in communities across the country, including ours in Houston and Harris County. The call to simply ‘defund the police’ or ‘abolish the police,’ however, is not the right approach, and it is inconsistent with the objectives to create safe communities for all Americans and to ensure equal protection under the law."
Wesley Hunt (R)7th Congressional DistrictStatement"The small minority of police officers who violate their public responsibility by abusing their authority need to be held accountable. Period.

But defunding or disbanding the police is a dangerous move that could increase crime and lead to more innocent Houstonians being harmed. Instead of embracing extreme solutions, we need to work together to find solutions that unite us rather than divide us."
Michael McCaul (R)10th Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
Pritesh Ghandi (D)10th Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
Mike Siegel (D)10th Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
Chip Roy (R)21st Congressional DistrictStatement"No, I do not support so-called defunding of police. If we want to have a real conversation about ensuring justice for every American and reducing overall government spending - sign me up. But I will not countenance the radical undermining of our community safety."
Wendy Davis (D)21st Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
Gina Ortiz Jones (D)23rd Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
Tony Gonzalez (R)23rd Congressional DistrictStatement“Tony Gonzales stands with law enforcement and will strongly oppose all efforts to defund our police. There are sensible reforms to policing that will make everyone safer and reduce the chance that another African American is killed while in police custody. But defunding the police will put more police at risk, make our cities less safe, and harm poor communities the most.” — Gonzales spokesperson
Raul Reyes (R)23rd Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
Beth Van Duyne (R)24th Congressional DistrictNo
Kim Olson (D)24th Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
Candace Valenzuela (D)24th Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
John Carter (R)31st Congressional DistrictDid not reply.“I spent decades as judge of the 277th District Court of Williamson County, and I worked with law enforcement officers daily. Through these interactions, I strongly believe that most police officers are selfless public servants devoted to keeping our communities safe. These are the heroes that are crucial to protecting our communities against crime. However, one of the greatest dangers to good police officers are bad ones. We have to reform the system to empower honorable officers to speak out against those they know do not rise to the standards of the badge. Defunding and dismantling the police is absolutely not a solution. In fact, it ensures that we lose the opportunity to implement positive changes that could improve our police forces. It’s important we use this time to have open dialogue on how we root out the bad officers, and further equip and invest in good officers that protect and serve.”
Christine Mann (D)31st Congressional DistrictDid not reply.
Donna Imam (D)31st Congressional DistrictStatement"The US military has stricter rules of engagement for troops deployed in war zones than our police officers do in our residential neighborhoods. That’s illogical and this must change. Police officers must prioritize de-escalation and be held accountable. We need to repeal qualified immunity and require that police officers carry liability insurance."
Eddie Rodriguez (D)Senate District 14Did not reply.
Sarah Eckhardt (D)Senate District 14Did not reply.
Donald Zimmerman (R)Senate District 14Statement"My responses. based on the fact that I'm the only SD-14 candidate who served as CHAIR of the Austin City Council "Public Safety Committee in 2015-2017:

1. Abolishing police departments would accelerate the spread of violence and anarchy which the BLM and ANTIFA domestic terrorists find useful in the quest for political power through socialist revolution; I am strongly opposed
2. Using funding to leverage policy changes -- the fact of the matter is large metro area police departments largely function autonomously as miniature governments. They have their own lobbyists, their own "public relations" (or propaganda) departments, their own "public information" officers, their own "budget" staff, their own "internal investigation" departments, etc. Control over taxpayer dollars which fund the exorbitant budgets is the ONLY way "elected officials" can answer to the voters and taxpayers in policy direction of such autonomous departments. The one change that is desperately needed: abolish the dangerous and corrupt "code of silence" union practice of protecting criminal cops by intimidating honest cops to say nothing or even commit perjury to cover criminal behavior of other cops. A case in point is West Point military offier Antonio Buhler's prosecution, where police apparently committed perjury in false accusations of assault, which were proven false by privately recorded video which directly contradicted sworn testimony of crooked cops. Police defied all requests to release their own video of the incident because it would have concurred with other exculpatory evidence for the falsely accused suspect. Corrupt practices of a few bad cops have now brought devastating attacks on all law enforcement.
3. Shifting large portions of funding to community resources -- THIS is the real point of the racist false accusers in BLM and ANTIFA, and it amounts to a criminal "shakedown" of law abiding businesses and taxpayers! I find it similar to rackets of other organized crime entities: "pay us, or we will accuse you of being 'racist' and bring violence and looting to the streets", and they have already proven they can back up their blackmail."
Pete Flores (R)Senate District 19Statement"Sen. Flores, a career law enforcement officer, believes in law and order; any effort to "defund the police" is dangerous to public safety and puts the lives of Texans at risk." — Flores spokesperson
Roland Gutierrez (D)Senate District 19Did not reply.
Xochil Pena Rodriguez (D)Senate District 19Did not reply.
Sarah DeMerchant (D)House District 26Did not reply.
Suleman Lelani (D)House District 26Did not reply.
Jacey Jetton (R)House District 26Did not reply.
Matt Morgan (R)House District 26No
Erin Zwiener (D)House District 45Did not reply.
Carrie Isaac (R)House District 45No
Bud Wymore (R)House District 45Did not reply.
Vikki Goodwin (D)House District 47Did not reply.
Jennifer Fleck (R)House District 47No
*Justin Berry (R)House District 47Statement"I am not for defunding Law Enforcement. I do believe there are some areas to improve upon, especially with training. I am open to working jointly with all stakeholders for a collaborative policy to improve areas that do not diminish the necessities police officers need to keep communities safe."
James Talarico (D)House District 52Did not reply.
Lucio Valdez (R)House District 52No
Lynn Stuckey (R)House District 64Did not reply.
Angela Brewer (D)House District 64Did not reply.
Michelle Beckley (D)House District 65Did not reply.
Kronda Thimesch (R)House District 65No
Matt Shaheen (R)House District 66Statement“I will never support radical leftists' agenda of placing the life and property of millions of Texans at risk by defunding the police”.
Sharon Hirsch (D)House District 66Did not reply.
Jeff Leach (R)House District 67Statement"Any suggestions that police agencies should be defunded are reckless and wrong. We will boldly pursue justice for any Texan wronged by police misconduct and will work collaboratively with our officers to institute smart and sensible reforms going forward. But make no mistake: there are thousands of amazingly selfless, brave, decent and good men and women serving in the thin blue line in Texas - and the Texas legislature must and will have their back."
Tom Adair (D)House District 67Did not reply.
*Lorenzo Sanchez (D)House District 67Statement"We do support leveraging funding to community resources, and believe that there are many additional areas for serious police reform. We have a section under our priorities on our website titled, Black Lives Matter, which specifically addresses some of the legislative ideas that we support, while feeling there is still more that can be done. We are working with local officials, activists and lawyers to find solutions that work for the community and save lives without putting others at further risk."
Jeff Cason (R)House District 92Did not reply.
Jeff Whitfield (D)House District 92Did not reply.
David Cook (R)House District 96Did not reply.
Joe Drago (D)House District 96Did not reply.
Morgan Meyer (R)House District 108Did not reply.
Joanna Cattanach (D)House District 108Did not reply.
Angie Chen Button (R)House District 112Did not reply.
Brandy Chambers (D)House District 112Did not reply.
Rhetta Bowers (D)House District 113Did not reply.
Will Douglas (R)House District 113Statement"No. We should not "defund" the police. There are plenty of common sense police reform measures that could make our communities safer for everyone, but defunding, or abolishing the police as many are suggesting, is nothing more than an effort by fringe left wing groups to dismantle the greatest nation in the world."
John Turner (D)House District 114Did not reply.
Luisa del Rosal (R)House District 114Statement"I join our nation in mourning the senseless loss of George Floyd and feel pain that these horrific deaths continue in communities around our nation, including Dallas. I join the pleas for justice and better treatment of minorities. I also support our police officers who risk their lives daily for our safety and who are equally outraged by what happened to George Floyd and too many others.

Defunding the police is not the answer. But we must have more accountability to our communities and respond to the senseless deaths of black men and women. I believe more education, training, operational support and community engagement is the key to build trust between law enforcement and our communities and root out the bad actors that don’t stand to protect and serve all people."
Steve Allison (R)House District 121No
Celina Montoya (D)House District 121Did not reply.
Gina Calanni (D)House District 132Did not reply.
Mike Schofield (R)House District 132Did not reply.
Sarah Davis (R)House District 134Did not reply.
Ann Johnson (D)House District 134Did not reply.
Jon Rosenthal (D)House District 135Did not reply.
Justin Ray (R)House District 135Statement"The murder of George Floyd was horrific, unnecessary, and shameful. It’s more important now than ever for us to listen and work together to make necessary reforms. Everyone must come to the table—including state and local leaders, community leaders and police departments—to implement reforms while providing oversight and accountability.

Police departments must continue to exist and be funded to keep us safe from crime. As the former Mayor of Jersey Village, I’ve seen firsthand that public safety is a top priority for our residents. In my time as mayor, we worked hard to build strong bonds between the public and law enforcement by expanding “National Night Out” to reach into new communities and foster personal relationships between residents and police officers. Well-funded and properly trained law enforcement is critical to providing the security needed for Texas families and businesses to thrive."
Lacey Hull (R)House District 138Did not reply.
Akilah Bacy (D)House District 138Did not reply.
Jenifer Pool (D)House District 138Did not reply.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.