The candidates for Texas State House District 117 faced off in their first debate Monday night. The race to represent the district pits Republican incumbent John Garza against former San Antonio City Councilman Philip Cortez.
In his opening remarks, Cortez reminded the South San Antonio voters he fought for them on city council and will fight even harder for them in Austin.
"I'm very proud to be from here. I believe in the families from here because I know them personally," Cortez said. "They know my family and I believe in the potential for this side of town."
John Garza used his opening statement telling voters he will continue to be a job creator for the district if he's allowed to stay.
"I want to see some job readiness programs," Garza said. "The private sector is willing to get involved and the school districts see the necessity for that now."
While there were no fireworks between the two men, Garza exchanged words with South San school board member Connie Prado when the discussion turned toward school funding.
"I know there are a lot of opportunities in the South San School District and I have a lot of solutions and you haven't called me once to come in and talk about them," Garza sternly told Prado.
Garza took heat for supporting the Governor's massive cuts to public education in the last legislature, carving out $5.4 billion in funding. Garza defended his vote on the hot button issue.
"We can't spend what we don't have, unfortunately our federal government is not like that, but education is not exempt from being effective and producing results," Garza said.
Cortez sees the issue differently. He believes the money is there to prevent further cuts and he wants a chance to prove it.
"First and foremost I would not vote against the children of Texas," Cortez said. "I will be fighting to use some of those rainy day funds to ensure if there are any shortfalls in the budget that we are not going to short change our children and we're going to get those funds to them through the rainy day fund."
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