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Meet the candidates running for Texas House of Representatives District 34

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Posted at 5:07 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 17:18:14-04

A watchful eye is on the race for Texas House of Representatives for District 34.

Republican Carolyn Vaughn is going up against Democratic incumbent Abel Herrero, who has had his seat at the legislature for eight terms.

KRIS 6 News had a meeting with both of the candidates to get background information on the two and find out what they stand for and how they plan to make improvements for the communities they hope to serve next year.

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Q. "Tell me about yourself."

Carolyn Vaughn:
"I was born in South Carolina, but I grew up in Lubbock from a very young age. My mom was a single mom with eight children. I married my husband and we've been married for 52 years. I have three children, eight grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, and another one on the way. My husband and I started an oil and gas service company in the 80s and it was very successful, it went international. And I ran for city council and county commissioner. I quit school when I was in the 10th grade, got my GED, had to take care of my brother who had muscular dystrophy, and we've been very blessed. Awesome. Now" she said.

Abel Herrero:
"I'm the State Representative for District 34. Born and raised in our community in Robstown. My mom raised my brother and I as a single parent, she worked two jobs, one of which was working as an elevator operator and one of the buildings where I opened up my law office. I've been practicing for 25 years. My wife and I have been married for 30 years practically. And we have five children, one of which is already graduated from college and working her job and the other four are still in public schools. And so we have a senior who's graduating this year so we're excited and proud of all of our kids and just grateful to be able to represent District 34 in the state. It is truly an honor. And that's why I'm here again asking humbly for people's support and vote."

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Q. "Tell me why you want the job?"

Abel Herrero:
" I love serving as a public servant, I've been able to help individuals and we've been able to help domestic violence survivors, for example, escape from their abusers. We've been able to help veterans who've come home from foreign wars to only have to battle here, you know, against health issues. You know, we were able to establish a burns pits registry for Texas to be able to help our veterans. You know, being able to help our school teachers, you know, my wife being a school teacher for 10 years, you know, she's not teaching anymore, but you know, we understand what it is like with kids now that are in our public schools. You know, the demands that are placed on teachers, we want to be able to provide assistance to them, make sure that they receive pay increases for the pay for the work that they're doing. You know, again, we have four children that are attending our public schools, and just like our children are attending our schools, we're worried about their safety. We're worried about the community's safety as a whole. So we want to make sure that we continue to work on those issues that are important."

Carolyn Vaughn:
"I want it because I want to make a difference and I want someone representing our district that has our values. Texas and the United States are at a crossroads right now. And if we don't change what's happening, we're gonna lose our state. We're gonna lose our country. So we've got to change what we're doing. And we need a representative that can do that. I understand the needs of the community. And I understand all economic levels because I've been through all of it. So, I think that we can just make it better and I think I'm the one to do it. I'm retired now I've got plenty of time. And I think that you have to give 120 percent in that office, and I'm willing to do that."

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Q. "What do you think are some of the biggest needs in the community?"

Carolyn Vaughn:
"Well one big need right now is the Harbor Bridge. I mean, we've got to get the Harbor Bridge done. And the other needs that we have, we look at the rural areas I think they're forgotten sometimes. We got problems in Robstown that we need to address. They have been the same since when we got here in the 80s Robstown has not changed at all. It is should not be that way. So we need to look at that. We need to figure out how we can help them become a community that's economically advantaged. I'm hoping that when Tesla comes that's going to have to change that area there. But we've got lots of problems. We've got problems with roads that we need to fix. So we've got problems with schools. So there are lots of things that need to be done.

I also think one of the big issues that I have is property taxes. I think we've got to change that. I think we've got to look at how appraisals are done. People cannot afford, young people, are not gonna be able to afford a home or a house apartment. Rent has gone up and it has a lot to do with property taxes. So that's one of the things I want to look at. And education. I don't think teachers are being paid what they should be paid. I want to look at school choice. So many different avenues. So it's hard to pinpoint those are two of the top priorities, but there are lots of them."

Abel Herrero:
"Public school funding, fully funding our public schools because if we do that, not only do we create an educated workforce, but as I mentioned before if the state puts forth enough resources into our public school classrooms, we provide a pay raise for our school teachers. When we're able to provide the resources for our students to be able to achieve the goals that we're setting for them to achieve, we're able to reduce the classroom sizes, we're able to provide local control to our school districts so that they can identify the resources and issues that are most important to them. And talking to them about public school safety. We know that they need some flexibility in ensuring that if police officers are not available or a peace officer is not available to provide security, we provide some alternatives that are still equally as qualified, but also some flexibility, so more local control to our public school systems, making sure that we provide the funding so that we can help reduce the local property school taxes as well. So if the state does its part and makes public schools a priority and fully funds our public schools, it helps us address a lot of the issues."

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Q. What can you bring to the table that your opponent cannot?

Carolyn Vaughn:
"He's been there for 16 years. That's too long. And that's one of the reasons I like term limits. I think you get there and you get comfortable in your seat. You don't see him unless it's election time. I want a representative that's going to be there, who's going to be there to support the committee, the community. And I can do that. And like I said, I do understand all aspects of the community. And so I think I can bring a lot to the table. My family's raised, and you know, he's got a family. He's still raising them. He's got a job still, you know that he has to raise his family. I understand that. So I think with the time that I have, I think I think that can represent the community.

Abel Herrero:
"Well, one of them is experience. We have five kids and they're in public schools, and more than that, my wife having been a school teacher herself, we had to pay out of our pockets, if you will, to make sure that the school teachers, her as a school teacher had the resources that she needed, and it shouldn't come to that, right. So being a small business owner, I've got that as well. Here's another issue that's important also, is my seniority having been there the length of time that I've been there, I've been able to establish seniority, so out of 150 members, instead of having someone from our delegation be perhaps the 100 and 50th ranking member. If I'm elected again, I will be coming in within the top 25 House members in the next legislative session. So when you look at my background, my educational background, my experience as an attorney for 25 years and representing the different individuals including businesses, small business owners, individuals themselves and fighting for the rights that they are entitled to, all of that when you collectively pulled that together with my willingness and ability to work with people across the aisle, is also an attribute that I believe that what I bring that is different from my opponent. But I am respectful of my opponent, but nevertheless, I want to make sure that people understand the comparative differences between my background my experiences my achievements, and I stand firmly by my voting record, in what I've been able to accomplish in what is in the best interest of our community and our constituents."

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Q. What is your stance on decriminalizing and/or legalizing marijuana?

Abel Herrero:
"So decriminalizing marijuana, we have taken some steps in the House side. I know that on the Texas Senate there's been a lot of resistance in doing so. I understand what our local District Attorney has done here as well. Having represented individuals specifically as an attorney from an area outside of our area that was caught with some of small allowances. If you will, it potentially could have ruined his record. He was not dealing or anything like that, but he was in possession, even though it wasn't an amount but what I believe is that we can look at some of these issues. I don't think that the state as a whole is ready to legalize. I know that the governor has already objected to that. I know that a lieutenant governor has as well. But in working with individuals, we understand that in some cases, it would be good to be able to provide some alternative avenues instead of putting people in jail having been here in Neuces County for as long as I have been and knowing what
the situation is now that our bill didn't pass our jail standards because there's overcrowding of our jails. And we are having individuals there that in some cases are in there for minor possessions of something of a substance marijuana, for example, as you mentioned, under overcrowding our jails and I know from people in the county that the county is having to put individuals and Victoria in detention centers elsewhere. So I think it would help create a situation where it would allow for some flexibility, if you will, but I do believe that there needs to be some parameters, especially when it comes to the access of anything of that sort to children that are under age, obviously. So those are a lot of things that we would have to consider. I know that we considered some of those issues. There was resistance in the house, but you know, I do think that it's important for us to look at those issues again, so that we can try to be smart on crime.

For legalizing marijuana, I'm an open minded individual, I would consider issues that are brought forth for consideration. I one that has been analytical and comparing the pros and the cons of an issue. And then based on the response that we get from our constituency, you know, we will push forth and whatever that position is. I am a representative of our community. So if the community says, hey, yeah, we would like for you to consider that and we want you to move forward, that's what I would do if the community says no, this is a step that we would not want to take then I respect the opinions of our constituents. I will advocate and represent them as I have been the last couple of years."

Carolyn Vaughn:
"This is kind of a difficult one because I don't think we have a lot of information. I think like I said, I think that we need to look at the states that have done it before. Some people think it's a doorway to more drugs. I don't know if it is or not. I think it needs to be looked at. You need to go to Colorado and the other states that have done it and say what happened. Can you drive when you're smoking marijuana? I don't know. I've not smoked it. So I think we just need to look at I mean, you shouldn't be on your cell phone when you're driving. You shouldn't be drinking when you're driving. So we need to look at and see what the what the results are. Is anyone going to get hurt because we don't want people killed because they're smoking marijuana in their car and going home at night or whatever. So I don't know. Is it a state issue? Yes. Maybe they need to put it on the ballot.

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Q. Give us your insight on inflation, the economy, and housing?

Carolyn Vaughn:
"Well, I can only imagine what people that are living on Social Security are doing right now with gas or buying food and groceries. I mean it is out of whack. It's gone up such a huge percentage. I think it was 2.1. Now we're up to 8.4. So it's got to stop and I think it's going to come from the federal government. That's where it started. So it needs to stop and I think that's where the buck stops is with Biden. I think that we have got to get more oil and gas drilling going on. We've got to take the regulations off and let the oil and gas industry drill. We have plenty of oil and gas here. So there's no reason for these prices to be that way. And whenever this election is over, probably the gas is going to shoot back up again because he's going through the reserves right now and that is to make the price go down when it's over. It's going to shoot back up

Abel Herrero:
"There's a diverse group of the housing if you will, to housing needs between people that are looking for affordable housing, individuals that are homeowners and trying to make sure that we the keep the cost of living down. I went to the dollar store and wanted to buy a loaf of bread and it was four dollars or $3.75 to be exact. So we want to do everything that we can do to make sure that we reduce the cost of living. It's important that we provide adjustments. I'm always ready, willing and able to help our community because those are some of the needs that we know of in a diverse community that we live in.

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Q. Education was touched on earlier, any other ideas to improve the system and gain funding?

Abel Herrero:
"You know, the oil and gas business is starting to pick up again. And so the state reaps a lot of benefits from that. We also have under the projections of the Texas Comptroller forecast to have revenues. Another proposition that I would have been strongly in support of is to allow for gaming in our communities. You know, we've talked about casinos coming to Texas, you know, whether it's allowing horse and dog tracks to be able to allow gaming as a means to start this but you know, Corpus Christi, could be one of those destination locations, and thatwould be an increase also revenues for our state. So there's a myriad of ways that we can allow for the state to be able to bring in additional growth and prosperity and you know, you've got companies like Tesla that are looking to locate in this area that would help bring investments jobs, creation of productivity in our area that would be leading not only the state, the nation, but I would argue the world as a whole for these types of industries. We're sitting situated in a great location in our area here and district are different races County, but then also specifically in the state of Texas. It's no coincidence that a lot of individuals are coming from other states to locate in, in in Texas, and that's because we're in a great area, because of our land because of our rules that we have that allow for growth of business. As a small business owner, I understand and appreciate you know, that everybody relies on their jobs and and for me as a business owner, I want to make sure that we provide those opportunities and there's a lot of other individuals out there, large businesses, small businesses that are providing pay, if you will, jobs, opportunities. My mom sacrifice as a single parent to make sure that she provided opportunities to my brother and I, I as a parent of five children want to provide opportunities for my children and everybody who is out there is making sacrifices one way or another to make sure that their children and their grandchildren have better opportunities than we do at the moment. So it's a collective effort. The point here is that a lot of these issues, if not all of them, are not partisan. It's about helping our community providing what is in the best interest of our constituency and working together with whoever, whomever that may be, to provide better opportunities so that we can make things better for everyone.

Carolyn Vaughn:
"Well, I said one of the big issues that teachers have is the pay, but I think they want to feel safe just like they want the children to be safe and I think they want support. So I think we have to give them that. I think that sometimes we have children that are in classes that are harmful to themselves to the teachers or to the other students. I think that we need to move them to another class to where they can get the help they need, but it doesn't harm the other 30 students or whatever it is in a classroom. So I just think we're going to have to do that. And then I want to look at school choice. I think that every parent should have the choice to where their child goes to school. So that's a big issue for me. And the mandates. I think that's going to improve the schools too. If the state does not mandate things without funding.

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Q. What should be done at the border?

Carolyn Vaughn:
"I want them to build that wall. You know, I appreciate the fact and I think some people are frustrated with the Governor and things but he has stepped up the plate. We've got drugs coming in. We have terrorists coming in to sex traffickers. We cannot continue to like this. A country has to have a border. So we're gonna have to get together. And you know, the Federal basically has caused this to happen. So as far as the state we need to get with Governor Abbott and see what else can be done legally that they can do.

Abel Herrero:
"It's a federal issue, but obviously it's affecting Texas and so when the propositions came forth and providing resources for our Texas Department of Public Safety, I supported those propositions, you know, in providing additional funding, additional individuals. I'm not gonna say manpower because there are women, so men and women in DPS that are protecting our communities. I do think that we need to do more to ensure that our local jurisdictions have the resources necessary. When we look at some of the lessons learned from Uvalde. We learned that there is additional training that is needed for our local law enforcement that we need to make sure that we provide availability of individuals that are well equipped, you know, so when we look at our police force, and we look instead of dedicating all of our resources to the border, you know, we need to look in our backyard and realize that those funds could be used effectively and efficiently. And in a more direct way, in curtailing some of the violence that is occurring in our communities, specifically in our schools. If we just refocus our attention in training officers and making availability of resources and individuals to rural communities, making sure that we provide the training in our classrooms for individuals that we will allow for local control of our school districts, and that we allow for flexibility of our school districts and being able to provide those resources. So you know, I understand that we can use our DPS troopers in doing some of the Border Patrol issues that are really the task of the federal government but we also need to see some results in seeing that it is being used effectively in that fashion, but otherwise, we can use those resources effectively, efficiently. Now, in our in our backyards.

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Q. What is your stance on abortion policies?

Abel Herrero:
"I'm pro-life, and I voted as such. I've indicated, two individuals that have asked me that and that's what I've done. I'll stand by my record, you know, and that's my position on abortion. And people ask me, I'm pro-life."

Carolyn Vaughn:
"Well, first off, you could still have an abortion. You can't have it in Texas, but you can still have an abortion when the Supreme Court brought it down, it just gave it to the States. I am against abortion. But I do understand that there are some exceptions and I think we need to look at that. And I think like so many people. I'm conflicted when you're raped and there's incest, totally conflicted with that. But I do think we do need to do a better job whenever a mom does want to keep their baby because sometimes they try and talk them out of it. And we need to provide things for them so that they can make a living. They can be better moms and there are some places right here and in the state that does that so I just think we need to help the mom if she decides and I think that you need you to know the women are constantly saying, "Well it's my body, my right." It is your body and is your right but there are contraceptives just like men have things they can do. They can get clipped. So there are things women can do without getting pregnant. So do that before you get pregnant because you don't want to kill a baby."