A retired local teacher is running to oust longtime Republican Representative John Smithee in November.
Mike Purcell, the Democratic nominee for State Representative District 86, is one of two challengers hoping to oust Smithee in November. While Smithee is the longest serving Republican in the current makeup of the Texas Legislature, Purcell says that he feels that he represents the best option for voters looking for a change.
"If they believe the way I believe, that we need a choice, then I am their choice," Purcell said.
The retired teacher and current Democratic Executive Committeeman for this senate district, said that he decided to run for State Representative after seeing cuts to education funding by the Texas Legislature.
"The State Legislature, every two years, lowers the amount of funding the state allocates for schools," Purcell said. "It used to be 50 percent ten years ago, now it's 38 percent. That places an unfair burden on local taxpayers."
Purcell also said that he plans to address cuts to teacher retirements in Texas. Purcell said that as a retired teacher, he understands the burden that teacher retirement cuts place on local retirees and that he wants to make sure the Legislature "addresses the problem."
On the topic of the economic status of the Texas Panhandle, Purcell said that he wants to make sure that families have the opportunity to earn more in the area.
"Seventy percent of Amarillo Independent School District children are on assisted lunch," Purcell said. "That means that over two-thirds of the parents in the district don't make enough to afford lunch for their children. What in the hell is the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation doing to let that happen?"
Finally, Purcell said that, if elected, he hopes to work to ensure a "fair" redistricting process, as redistricting in Texas will occur in 2020.
Purcell is facing Republican incumbent John Smithee and Libertarian Matthew Flores in November. Records appear to show that Purcell is the first Democratic opponent for Smithee since James Wood ran in 2008. Wood received about 18 percent in that race.
For more information on Purcell's campaign, please visit https://www.purcell2018.com/.