Three of four announced candidates in the race for Texas House District 5 will discuss their respective campaigns and field questions at a forum in Tyler Thursday.
Randy Davis, Philip Hayes, Cole Hefner and Jay Misenheimer are running for Texas House of Representatives District 5, which will be vacated by Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, who is running for Sen. Kevin Eltife’s senate seat.
District 5 includes a large geographic area from Titus County to the northeast, including the cities of Talco and Mount Pleasant to Rains County to the northwest, including Lake Tawakoni and Emory, and Camp (Pittsburg), Morris (Naples and Daingerfield) and Wood (Quitman and Mineola) counties and a large portion of Smith County.
In Smith County, the district includes Hideaway and Lindale to the northeast and covers all of eastern portions of the county, including the cities of Arp and Troup.
Grassroots America Executive Director JoAnn Fleming said Davis, Hayes & Hefner have all agreed to participate. Misenheimer said he would not attend due to a prior commitment.
“Candidates will have opening & closing remarks,” Mrs. Fleming said. “The format will be a mix of questioning on major state issues and will include a couple of debate topics where the candidates will be encouraged to debate each other.”
Davis, 65, of Emory, a retired U.S. Army sergeant and active Texas Guard captain with 23 years of military service, said he is a political novice but believes his military background and East Texas values would serve the district and region well in Austin.
He has never served in elected office. Davis said he would focus on Republican red meat issues, such as illegal immigration and Second Amendment rights.
Hayes, 24, a former Hideaway alderman, grew up in Lindale and said he understands policy topics that concern East Texas residents.
Hayes worked on Gov. Greg Abbott's election campaign in the region. He spent the most recent legislative session working as a policy advisor in the office of state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. Hayes said he helped shepherd Sen. Campbell's legislation and research bills to give the senator an idea whether to support or attempt to kill legislation. He also covered a gamut of policy items for Sen. Campbell, including bills related to transportation, criminal justice, water and rural affairs and intergovernmental affairs, which included bills with impacts on counties and cities.
Hefner, 34, a businessman from Mount Pleasant and former Upshur County commissioner, said East Texas needs good men and women in Austin who make conservative, principled decisions to preserve personal freedoms and fight government waste.
He said federal regulators, including the Environmental Protection Agency, are affecting East Texas industry and jobs, such as by setting “unreasonable” regulations on two coal-fired power plants in the district, he said. Hefner said overzealous regulatory mandates have cost hundreds of millions of dollars and caused a trickle-down effect on jobs and local taxing entities, including cities, counties and school districts.
Misenheimer, 52, a businessman from Lindale, said his business and volunteer life have prepared him to be an effective bridge builder inside the capitol.
Misenheimer bought Food Fast convenience stores and saved them from bankruptcy. He owned 69 stores that employed 550 people and experienced annual gross sales of $275 million. He sold the stores in 2011.
He is a former Lindale ISD school board member. He said he would focus on education and finding solutions to the ongoing funding feud between districts and the state. Misenheimer also said he would focus on building bridges and representing East Texas and District 5 interests.