The three are vying to be the Republican nominee in the race for the state’s 25th Senate District seat.
Chan and Novak used the debate as an opportunity to offer an alternative vision for the large district, which covers all of Comal and Kendall counties and parts of Bexar, Hays, Guadalupe and Travis counties.
The candidates sparred over several issues, including water resources, immigration reform and toll roads.
Campbell said she’s dedicated to ending gridlock in the district, but said the state’s transportation resources are severely lacking.
“We're $4 billion per year behind in paying for our roads and bridges. We can’t do that, that stops our economy,” the incumbent senator said. “With our district growing it at is and the congestion that we have, I’m committed to getting us out of 5 o'clock gridlock and it would be reckless for me to say, ‘No, never,’ to have a toll (road).”
Novak attacked Campbell’s record, saying her support of a bill that increased county vehicle registration fees helped pay for new toll roads.
“I don’t know how Dr. Campbell can represent that she did all this for transportation. She was one of four senators that voted against the entire state budget at the end of the day and transportation is part of that,” he said. “We've got to nuke, I mean nuke, the current funding mechanism for transportation. It does not work. Everything is on the table as far as I’m concerned with one exception, and that's tolling existing roads.”
Chan pointed to her time on the San Antonio City Council and working with the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority as the reason why she would be the best choice for District 25.
“I’m committed to finding sustainable funding resources to address our transportation issues,” Chan said. “You know me, I have been effective on city council and I do my studying and I know the issues.”
The conversation then shifted to the state’s water resources.
Campbell said she wants state lawmakers to develop a long-term, statewide policy for water resources.
“I want the legislature to direct the Texas Water Development Board to set standards for our groundwater districts across the state. Rules need to be written so that rules don’t change just because the board may change,” said Campbell.
Novak took aim at Campbell’s record again, saying she voted against efforts to conserve the state’s water resources.
“I don’t understand, Dr. Campbell, how you can say you've done all this for water when you've voted against it. I believe you didn’t even support Proposition 6,” Novak said.
Chan said the state needs to find better ways to conserve water and said the San Antonio Water System is a good model.
“I think we need to look at it in all different angles, you need to look at conservation, which SAWS does very well, but then also to develop additional water resources; we need to look at different technologies for us to do that,” Chan said.
Despite their differences, the candidates were able to find common ground on several issues.
All three do not support amnesty for undocumented immigrants, want to increase border security and do not believe San Antonio should become a “sanctuary city."
“I do think we need to look into a lot of the work programs so that we can make it easier for people that want to come to this country to become useful, be productive, pay taxes and to become a legal citizen,” Chan said.
“We can’t have chaos,” Novak said. “There’s got to be an order, there needs to be a pathway right now for legalization.”
“I do support immigration reform. I do not support amnesty,” Campbell said. ”I have an obligation to protect Texas, and as a senator I have the task to clean up the mess the federal government left behind.”
Novak, Campbell, and Chan will square off again on Thursday during a forum hosted by the San Antonio Republican Women at Old San Francisco Steakhouse.