Local Runoff Candidates Talk Border, Phelan, and Taxes

Cheryl Bean and John McQueeney
Cheryl Bean and John McQueeney | Image by Carlos Turcios/The Dallas Express

FORT WORTH — Texas House of Representatives District 97 primary runoff candidates Cheryl Bean and John McQueeney debated on Tuesday to discuss issues such as border security, property taxes, and the Texas speaker of the house.

The debate, attended by The Dallas Express, was moderated by Texas Christian University Political Science instructor Grant Ferguson and hosted by the Tarrant County Republican Party.

Cheryl Bean has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare, while McQueeney has been endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker. Both candidates are running to fill the open seat because incumbent Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) is vacating to run for the U.S. House to represent Texas’ 12th Congressional District.

When asked about abolishing property taxes, both candidates mentioned their support for such a measure.

“There is no reason that when you’ve worked hard, you’ve worked your entire life, you’ve paid your house off, that you should continue to rent your home from the government,” said McQueeney.

“The last thing you want is to pay more for this ever-increasing property tax than you did when you first bought your house,” added Bean.

When asked what measures the candidates would take to address the border crisis, both mentioned ideas on how they could better tackle unlawful migration in Texas.

Bean said that fences and buoys are not effective in deterring unlawful migrants and argued that the people at the border need to have weapons and apply force if necessary.

“We need to empower the people that are down there. That means we need to get a chain of command where there is somebody in charge at the local level that says, yes, you can employ at least mace or something,” Bean said, adding, “I don’t know if Texas has the ability, but we need to declare the people crossing our border as terrorists, particularly the cartel.”

McQueeney explained that he would continue to support Operation Lone Star and fund the National Guard.

“We got to continue to deploy the national guard and provide the resources to the border to defend Texans,” McQueeney said.

Between 2021 and early 2024, more than 7 million unlawful migrants have crossed the border, per State Of The Union. Additionally, the total number of enforcement actions logged by CBP has skyrocketed since President Biden became commander in chief, with jumps of more than 400,000 total encounters each fiscal year, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.

Candidates were asked if they would continue to support Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan.

“No, I would not support him,” Bean said, adding, “I will vote for a speaker who says, ‘I will not put Democrat chairs in place.'”

Conversely, McQueeney said, “I’m not focused on the Speaker’s race.” However, he did mention that he would support a speaker who effectively communicates “conservative policies.”

The Contract of Texas was brought up which has been signed by several primary runoff candidates and state House incumbents. The Contract of Texas is a 12-point plank that prioritizes issues such as school choice and ending the practice of Democrat Chairs in committees, per Texas Monthly.

Bean signed the pledge, while McQueeney has not.

“I signed it, and that’s why I have been bold from the very beginning and consistently said that Democratic chairs have got to go along with many of the other things on this thing,” said Bean.

McQueeney denied ever supporting appointing Democrats to committee chairs and argued that video manipulation was involved to suggest otherwise.

“My contract is with the voters of this district,” said McQueeney, adding, “I do not support Democrat chairs; it’s absolute baloney.”

However, in a February forum, McQueeney said he supports appointing Democrats to committee chairs “so long it’s not impactful on conservative principles,” adding, “It’s way complicated.”

When The Dallas Express asked McQueeney what made him change his position, he mentioned that he has never supported Democrats in committee chairs.

Early voting for the Republican primary runoff election is May 20-24, and election day is May 28.

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