Both candidates running for the Congressional District 25 seat expressed confidence as the Nov. 3 election nears.
“I think we’re in good shape,” U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, said. “We’re running through the finish line.”
Democratic challenger Julie Oliver begs to differ.
“We’re going to win,” Oliver said. “I knew it the day after the primary when the Democratic side of the ticket outvoted the Republican by a significant margin. I knew something was different and that feeling has not left me.”
Williams cited experience and the need for continuity in seeking his fifth term as well as his heart for public service.
“That’s a big deal to me and I think everyone should do some form of it,” Williams said. “Also, we’ve done a lot since I’ve been in Congress, but there’s a lot more to do.
“One thing that motivates me is I want to help our president and I also want to make tax cuts permanent. I had a big hand in the tax cuts of 2016.”
Williams said he has a heart for service men and women as well as Fort Hood, which is in the district.
“We’re doing some really good things between improvements to the barracks and motor pools, which were in unbelievable bad shape and are now up to par.
“But there’s still a lot more to do there now for our soldiers. We got them a raise, which is still not enough. But I want to continue to work to help our military.”
Experience also matters, Williams said.
“I want to continue to be the speaker for Main Street America and small business owners,” Williams said. “In owning a business, I’m somewhat unique. You’ve heard me say a lot of people in Congress don’t actually own a business. They pass laws they don’t have to live by. I pass laws I have to live by.”
Essential too, Williams said, is to remain resolute in fighting for pro-life values.
“We’ve always said our mantra is lower taxes, less government, cut spending, defend our borders, listen to your generals, understand the 10th Amendment and fight for Israel,” Williams said.
Oliver, a self-described teen Medicaid mom who worked her way through college and law school cites experience, too, having worked five years in the tax field and 15 in health finance.
“Ensuring every Texan has health care that is affordable,” Oliver said of her main objectives if elected. “Covering folks with preexisting conditions and honoring our commitments to veterans.”
Oliver, who ran against Williams in 2018, said she never previously considered running for office.
“It was Roger Williams voting to end protection for folks with preexisting conditions in December 2017,” Oliver said. “That’s what made me decide to run because I have a son with a lot of health care issues. If protection for folks with preexisting conditions goes away, there goes his health coverage. Let’s not forget, [Republicans] have no replacement plan. The replacement is go back to what we had before, which is no protection for preexisting conditions.”
Williams’ campaign disagreed and said that Williams, a cancer survivor, continues to fight for improved health care including protections for those with preexisting conditions.
Oliver disagreed, in turn citing Williams’ voting record.
Either way, Oliver said that while the Affordable Care Act needs tweaking, she is the better choice to address such issues.
“His expertise is selling cars,” Oliver said. “Nothing wrong with that, but his expertise is not health care finance and I’d be happy to tell him how this all works if you really want to support our rural hospitals, bring health costs down and allow everyone, especially seniors, to have access to affordable medications and prescriptions. We have to overhaul our health care system and not put that burden on small businesses.
Williams once again cited experience and name checked tax cuts and the military when asked what he’s most proud of during his tenure.
“Passing the most aggressive tax legislation in the history of our country,” Williams said. “Taking us from the highest tax rates to the lowest. We had a program called Jump Start America we were talking about before President Trump was president, which involved lowering taxes to create more cash flow for small businesses.
“Then, anything we’ve done for Fort Hood we’re proud of because those kids are giving their all. I’m doing nothing so anything we can do to help them is a big deal.”
Williams answered 2016, President Donald Trump’s victory and partisan divide when asked about the unexpected aspect of his tenure.
“When I went up in 2012 I found they were totally lacking business people in Washington,” Williams said. “That bothered me and we were able to do some things.
“But what I saw in 2016 was something I thought we’d never see, that’s our country totally driven by anger. The two parties, it’s not OK to agree to disagree anymore. It’s just very divided. Also, it surprised me too how many people in this country don’t see America like the majority of people see America.”
Williams said he’s convinced most still consider America the greatest country in the world.
“One that gives opportunities, not guarantees,” Williams said. “One that allows you to see visibility unlimited. But now all the sudden we’ve got people coming here that think it’s OK to defund the police. Even defund fire departments, like Dallas is doing. And let’s burn a building down while we’re at it. And let’s keep people from going to school. This is something I never thought I’d see, but now it’s the fight we’re in.”
It all boils down to Election Day, Williams said.
“You’ve got the biggest different between two people that you’ve ever seen in the history of our country and the future of where the country goes. I guess that’s been the biggest surprise, biggest disappointment. But, we’re doing our part to fight and keep America where it belongs, which is to the people and not the federal government.”
Oliver said she too has owned a business and understands the challenges of weathering economies and making payroll. Oliver added that she believes her chances, and those of Democrats state and country wide, in part because of Trump, and in turn Republicans and Williams’, handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re in the worst recession since the Great Depression with a net loss of nearly 11 million jobs since February and that’s squarely at the feet of the elected, Roger Williams and the president,” Oliver said. “When we had a pandemic response unit in the federal government that was gutted, a response unit specifically designed for something like this.
“Let’s not forget the swine flu was coming and we handled it. I realize 12,000 lives were lost in that, but 12,000 versus 2 million.
“Not to mention the administration’s not acknowledging science or doctors, not acknowledging the lives lost and the tragedy.
“This could absolutely have been mitigated, but it’s like this administration have thrown their hands in the air and said, ‘Well, we’ll just wait for a vaccine.’
“I think you can put a lot of blame on how this was handled on this administration and the folks who enabled the administration including Roger Williams.”
Williams disagreed and said he’s worked hard to assist the district throughout the pandemic.
Oliver said also that she’s refused to take PAC money, which, if elected, leaves her free to represent the residents of CD-25 and to stand up to the political leaders of both parties.
Oliver vowed to work to mitigate divisiveness and partisanship if elected.
“Here’s the difference,” Oliver said. “I show up in this community. You’ve seen me I don’t know how many times before the pandemic. I never turn anybody away. I never say, ‘No, you can’t come in. You’ve got an R next to your name.’
“I went to the celebration for Purple Heart veterans at the American Legion in Cleburne. I can tell you there probably weren’t many Democrats in that room, but I showed up for them and talked to them about their benefits. I’m not going to shy away from Republicans. Shoot, half my family are Republicans. I care about this community and the folks in this community and want to represent all of them.”
The unfortunate part, Williams said, is that the divisive element need not be. Williams offered the Save Our Stages proposal as an example, legislation he coauthored to help live music and event venues hard hit by COVID-19 shutdowns and legislation that has garnered broad support on both sides of the aisle.
“There’s a lot we agree on up there,” Williams said. “But you don’t ever hear about it because we don’t talk about it because we don’t want anybody to get credit for anything. So, if you’re on the Democratic side, you don’t want Trump to get credit for anything. If you’re on our side, you hope it goes our way.
“That’s got to be fixed.”
Williams took the media to task as well for ignoring the good things.
“People talk about how big major newspapers don’t exist anymore,” Williams said. “You look at some and they’re about [holds fingers barely apart] this thick. If they’d look at themselves, the reason that they are is they don’t talk about the news. They’re one-sided. They’re left leaning. Again, the majority of people want, let’s read some good news. Let’s read the truth and let the people decide.
“I think they’ve taken it so far with the way they’ve beat up this administration, the way they beat us up in our run. It’s so far out of kilter that it’s a real problem. One paper has Trump breathing, the other has him not breathing.
“Everyone complains about the tweets right? But if you think about it, sometimes the only news we get is from his tweets.”
It comes down also to the reason for choosing to serve, Williams said.
“We’ve got to get people who want to serve for the right reasons,” Williams said. “We can agree to disagree and not be angry with one another.
“We need more involvement from citizens too. A lot of people have opinions or yell on Facebook. The bottom line is your vote is your voice and you need to vote on Nov. 3.”