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Candidates Berry, Brinkley and Spiller share stance
on defunding police, mask mandates
House District 68 candidates’ John Berry, Jason Brinkley and David Spiller recently attended the Post Area Chamber of Commerce’s candidates’ forum to discuss their political platforms in preparation for the Jan. 23 Special Election.
Focusing on protecting the second amendment and unborn lives, broadening rural healthcare, broadband internet and water sources and advancing property tax relief, all three candidate platforms encompass the importance of conservative values.
“I’m conservative first, Republican second,” Berry, a Jacksboro financial planner, said. “I value strength, tradition and history. I, just like the rest of us, want to fight to conserve what’s important to us, and as a conservative, it’s my job to make sure our traditions are conserved.”
Brinkley, a Cooke County Judge, shares a much similar viewpoint as Berry, focusing on what he refers to as “the three Fs.”
“Faith, family and finance – that’s the principles of what conservatism is,” Brinkley said. “It’s about having faith, treating our community like our family and spending money wisely.”
Spiller, a Jacksboro attorney and school board trustee, took it a step further, stating he believes the government was designed to function in a conservative manner in order to yield the greatest efficiency.
“Our government was designed to function conservatively,” Spiller said. “When we talk about being conservative, we are talking about what we do in our own homes and how we were raised. When we get away from that, we see chaos.”
And with the United States experiencing what Spiller referred to as “chaos,” all three candidates shared their belief in keeping local law enforcement well-funded.
“Law enforcement and protection is a top priority for many counties,” Brinkley said. “Having a safe and secure environment is key.”
Berry, a non-supporter of the Sandra Bland Act, a law signed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2017 which increases public safety by preventing traffic stops from escalating and ensuring all law enforcement officers receive de-escalation training, agrees.
“It’s our law enforcement that keeps things in order and protects us,” Berry said. “Currently, we’re asking our law enforcement to do more with less funding – we need to fix that.”
The men also expressed their distaste of taxpayer funded lobbying, saying it silences those in rural areas like House District 68.
“It’s a way to silence the voice of rural Texas,” Brinkley said. “It was designed to fix urban problems. We need to level the playing field.”
Spiller seconds Brinkley’s ideology.
“It’s a hot topic,” Spiller said. “The only folks it’s hurting is you, the people in rural Texas. Maybe the problem is the definition of a lobbyist. There needs to be a carveout for rural voices.”
And, with Spiller serving on the Jacksboro ISD school board for 26 years, education was also a hot topic with all three candidates advocating for the funding of public schools and cutting the amount of standardized testing.
“I understand education,” Spiller said. “We spend way too much time on standardized testing. We need to allow teachers to do what they’re passionate about – teaching.”
Although homeschooling his children, Berry says he still understands the importance of rural school district’s impact.
“Just because we homeschooled doesn’t mean we’re anti-public school,” Berry said. “In fact, I believe we need to make sure the schools are properly funded. Schools are the life blood of the community and are often a big employer in the county.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic still underway, the men also discussed the constitutionality of mask mandates and how Governor Greg Abbott has handled the pandemic.
“Mask mandates are completely unconstitutional,” Spiller said. “The government mandating that is wrong. I’ll admit there were a lot of unknowns about this virus, but it was an overreaction.”
Berry agrees, stating that wearing a mask may not always be the best option.
“Governor Abbott overreacted, and we have to hold him accountable,” Berry said. “If masks worked, why does California, the state that has the strictest mask mandates, have the highest spike in cases?”
On the other hand, Brinkley, who was recently quarantined after high exposure to the virus, says he believes in the power of masks, supporting Abbott’s attempts at controlling the spread of Covid-19.
“There’s still a lot we don’t understand,” Brinkley said, “but I think masks help. While I think it’s better to go against the mandates than to face backlash, I still want people to voluntarily wear masks. You have to understand, Governor Abbott is good at reacting to hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, but he’s never been faced with a virus.”
Although differing viewpoints on masks, the men all agree that in order to restore the state of the nation after eight months of protests and riots in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent attack at the Capitol, everyone must come together as one.
“The number one thing we can do is pray,” Brinkley said. “I’ve always taken the time to listen to other viewpoints which is something I think a lot of people have stopped doing. Overall, I think most people want what’s best for America. Maybe I’m naïve in saying that, but I would rather choose to be naïve rather than to see our country destroyed.”
Much like Brinkley, Spiller believes respecting and listening to others is the resolution.
“We live in the greatest country in the world,” Spiller said, “but sometimes it doesn’t look like it. We can’t get overwhelmed when we see the news on TV. We need to pray for our leaders, state and community.”
Berry, agreeing with his opponents, says it’s time to start building bridges.
“What we can do as leaders is to make sure everyone is heard and understood,” Berry said. “It’s up to us to start building those bridges, the rest of the nation will follow.”
Even going as far as to endorse his opponents, Brinkley says he rests assured that whoever is elected to the position will be the one to mend and fight for rural Texas.
“You hear a lot of similarities in our platforms because we are all fighting for the same thing, rural Texas,” Brinkley said. “Whoever is elected will fight to keep your rural district alive. These are good gentleman, and they would do a great job serving you.”
Seeing eye to eye, Berry states he, Brinkley and Spiller all share servants’ heart.
“I want to stress that rural Texas is the core keeper of Texas spirit,” Berry said. “Us in rural Texas have to make sure our voice is heard. I want to be that voice, but I can’t do it alone. I have to hear from you.”
Using his closing statement to speak on the importance of trust, Spiller says he as well as his opponents have and will continue to be integral parts in rural development upon election.
“I believe I have the experience and knowledge to represent this district,” Spiller said. “What you need to know is that you can trust me – you can count on me.”
To learn more about each candidate, visit berry4texas.com, votebrinkley.com and spillerfortexas.com.
Opposing candidates Craig Carter (R) and Charles D. Gregory (D) were not in attendance.