The race for state representative for District 14 took an unexpected turn this year: Suddenly, it is competitive, which hasn’t been the case in quite a while.
For nine years now, Republican John Raney has represented District 14, which includes most of College Station and Bryan. Standing in the way of Raney’s reelection is Democrat Janet Dudding, who brings a lifetime of experience to her passionate bid for the District 14 seat.
The race certainly will make for an interesting — and perhaps tense — Election Night on Nov. 3.
Raney came to Bryan in 1960, graduating from Stephen F. Austin High School in 1965. While still a student at Texas A&M University, Raney founded Texas Aggieland Bookstore, which has employed countless Aggie students over the years. When no one else thought that the Republican Party could gain a hold in Brazos County in the 1970s, Raney believed. Step-by-step, brick-by-brick, Raney built his party, uniting with Republican women to turn Brazos County red.
In December 2011, Raney was elected to the Texas House in a special election to replace state Rep. Fred Brown, who had resigned. Since then, Raney has faced earnest, if not particularly strong, opposition from Democrats and even a Libertarian.
Dudding is a certified public accountant who began her government accounting career in the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor, investigating government corruption matters. Hurricane Katrina washed Dudding and her family to Bryan-College Station. Her husband joined the A&M department of civil engineering, while Dudding became budget manager — and, later, assistant director of finance — for the city of College Station. When her former home of Waveland, Mississippi, needed assistance recovering from the hurricane, Dudding went back to help. By the time she returned to College Station some two years later, Waveland had gone through a clean city audit and had rehired many of the employees who lost their job after the storm. She took early retirement from A&M to make this run for the Texas House of Representatives.
Dudding is critical of Raney’s record on education, equal pay for women and extending Medicaid. She favors expansion of Medicaid to reclaim federal money left on the table several years ago. While expanding Medicaid to more Texans, Dudding said it is important that mental health care be included in the government program.
She is critical of the way state Republican leaders dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, noting that a lot of federal dollars designated for COVID-19 assistance has not made it down to the cities.
On her campaign website, Dudding calls for laws to provide for a “healthy planet.” She said, “We need to green the grid, electrify transportation and clean up existing industries. Together, we can still turn this around — and create good-paying jobs.”
If elected, Dudding said she would like to be appointed to the House Ways & Means and Higher Education committees.
In previous sessions, Raney has served on the Higher Education and Land and Resource Management committees. During the last legislative session, Raney served on the Transportation and International Relations and Economic Development committees.
The coronavirus pandemic has created funding challenges for the state, which, Raney said, had gone from an anticipated
$4 billion surplus to a projected $4 billion deficit. He noted that state agencies have been ordered by the governor to cut 5% of their budget due to the virus. He suggested more budget cuts may be necessary but won’t know until the state comptroller certifies the budget figures for next year.
In addition to the budget shortfall, Raney wants to protect the improvements made in public education during the 2019 season Legislature, adding that the state must help develop career-tech programs in the schools. He said the state’s community colleges could help in those efforts.
Raney praised Texas A&M’s efforts to bring health care to rural Texas with kiosks to link Texans in those areas to access health professionals.
Dudding is sharp, she is committed, and she has a fire for the job. What she lacks is legislative experience that can come only one way.
Raney never will be Mr. Excitement. Rather, he is a steady, low-key leader who works quietly to get the job done.
While either candidate would represent Bryan and College and Station well, Raney is a known quantity and he needs no time to adjust to the job. His experience has served us well.
The Eagle recommends a vote for John Raney for reelection to the District 14 seat in the Texas House of Representatives.
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