Democrats across Texas -- buoyed by Beto O'Rourke's strong showing against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 -- are working hard to turn the state back to blue. Part of their effort is to find as many qualified candidates to run for as many offices as possible, at every level.
Among those candidates are two Democrats vying to replace House District 14's state Rep. John Raney, a Republican, in November. Raney is unopposed in the March 3 Republican Primary.
Janet Dudding, 60, a government certified public accountant, is facing Raza Rahman, who turns 22 on Tuesday, a senior majoring in economics and psychology in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M.
Dudding and her husband moved to the community from the Mississippi coast 14 years ago in the wake of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, an experience she said makes climate change personal to her. That leads her campaign planks, along with health care, transportation and healthy wages.
After graduating from college and earning her CPA, Dudding went to work for the Mississippi state auditor investigating government corruption. After her husband took a job at Texas A&M following Katrina, Dudding went to work as budget manager and then assistant director of finance for the city of College Station. She then was asked by her former Mississippi community to return home to help deal with financial difficulties stemming from disaster relief. After a year, she came back to Bryan-College Station but continued to help by telecommunication. After returning, Dudding joined the A&M department of oceanography as a business administrator, a position from which she retired to run for the District 14 seat.
Rahman grew up in College Station in a family facing financial challenges, which, he said, allows him to understand the economic difficulties of many Texas families. "I want to be a voice for the unrepresented," Rahman said, adding, "I want to give voice to the voiceless."
His top issues in the campaign include education, health care, infrastructure and social justice.
In announcing for the office, Rahman said, "I have an unyielding desire to do good in and for my community. You grow up hearing 'be the change you wish to see in the world,' so I took that advice and I ran with it. We are blessed to live in a country in which we have that opportunity to make a change."
Dudding is critical of Rep. Raney for voting against equal pay for women and for accepting a campaign contribution from a company involved in fracking for oil and then voting in favor of outlawing allowing local cities to ban fracking in their communities. College Station was among the Texas cities that had passed a fracking ban that was overturned by the law.
She favors efforts to reduce oil and gas use and carbon dioxide emissions. Methane, which frequently is a by product of oil production, should be captured and harnessed for energy before it turns into CO2. She acknowledges the cost of doing so, but said, "It will cost a fortune if we do nothing."
Dudding calls for electrifying transportation, including the trucks that deliver so many of America's goods. She favors the planned high-speed rail, saying she can't wait to ride it.
She calls for an increase in the minimum wage, but says it should be driven by the economics of each particular area, perhaps indexing it to the cost of living for each area.
Calling health care "really, really important to me," Dudding said the Legislature must find a way to remove the profit motive from the system. "I know what it feels like to be poor and to work really, really hard" and still not be able to afford health care. She said she has the tools in the tool box to be an effective legislator.
One of the reasons she is running, Dudding said is because, as a woman, she brings a lot to the table, including her experiences with health care.
Perhaps Dudding's most surprising call is to make the Texas Legislature a full-time position. It now meets for 140 days every other year -- it meets again in January -- which she said isn't enough time to give full measure to all the issues facing the state.
Rahman said, if elected, he would work to balance paying for the growing needs of the state by forcing corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. "We need to stop the entitlements the state gives to them," he said.
He said he would work with all members of the House to compromise and "move all people forward. "He said he always has been politically charged and service-oriented. "Politics should be about people again," Rahman said. "We need to bring people together."
While in college, Rahman has been active in the student economics association, the blood bank, the Aggieland Animal Shelter and the Muslim Student Association.
Dudding is on the board of the Texas Democratic Women of the Brazos Valley and is a member of the College Station Noon Lion's Club, the Bryan Rotary Club, the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, Governmental Financial Officers Association of Texas, the Texas A&M Women's Club, the A&M Garden Club, the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley, the Brazos Valley African American Museum, the NAACP, the Hispanic Forum and Brazos County Retired School Personnel.
Both Dudding and Rahman are attractive, dedicated candidates. Dudding, however, has the life experience that is needed to be an effected leader, whether in the Legislature or in any other endeavor. Her accounting training would serve the House well as it deals with all the demands on money coming into the state. If she wins on March 3, it will be interesting to see her take on the well-liked, experienced John Raney.
Rahman is bright and articulate. What he lacks is the experience of living a life fully. If he doesn't win on March 3, we urge him to continue to be politically active, perhaps working in a future political campaign or two and then run for office as a more complete candidate.
The Eagle recommends a vote for Janet Dudding for Texas House District 14 in the March 3 Democratic Primary.