PALESTINE — Businessman Bobby Vickery announced to the Herald-Press recently that he hopes to take his experience and skills to Austin as the District 8 State Representative.
The Texas House District 8 Seat represents Anderson, Navarro, Hill and Freestone Counties.
Vickery, 53, lives in Frost. He is from Tyler but has been a resident of District 8 for 20 years. He is the owner of Texas Environmental Training & Compliance, LLC and is actively involved in the community. His wife is a teacher and they have two children.
He previously ran for State Representative in 2008 and 2012. Vickery said he will be accessible to the constituents of District 8 if elected during the March 4 Republican Primaries.
“I feel like District 8 needs a representative that has a district office, and is familiar with the rural area,” Vickery said. “I understand what the needs are.”
Vickery said he believes economic development is one of the biggest issues he’ll work on for District 8.
“Too many of our young people are moving away,” he said. “We need good-paying jobs, we need to keep the young professionals here.”
As for the state budget, Vickery called it “out of control.”
“We need leaders in Austin who will fight for fiscal discipline,” Vickery said. “We don’t need a government that looks like California. We need government that does a few core jobs and leaves Texans free to run their own lives.”
One of those core functions of state government is education. Statewide, Vickery said this has to be the top priority. But he said it will take a non-partisan effort in Austin to make needed changes in schools and in funding education.
“I think we start talking to the ‘boots on the ground’ — the teachers and superintendents — and figure out what’s working and not working,” Vickery said. “I don’t think we are engaging the right people ... (lawmakers) aren’t getting input from the educators themselves.”
He said another aspect of education and education funding is the added impact of illegal immigrants on the school system. Thus, immigration reform will be high on his agenda.
“The illegals are getting entitlements,” Vickery explained, such as education and health care, at taxpayer expense. “Somehow, we’re going to have to get them to pay their fair share of benefits that Americans provide, and Texas residents provide.”
While he believes America must always be welcoming of legal immigrants, he said state and federal policies should not give amnesty to illegal immigrants. But entitlement reform goes beyond the problem with illegal immigrants, he added.
“I think there are a lot of job opportunities out there, and 99 weeks unemployment is too long,” Vickery said. “We need to help people ‘want to work’ again and we need to reform that.”
Job creation, he said, will help fix that – something he'd like to see increase in District 8.
“We have rail, we have water, we have affordable land, we have a workforce,” Vickery said. “We’ve got all the tools in the toolbox, we just need to be promoting it.”
At the state level, Vickery added he will work to fight Obamacare, which he said is causing millions of Americans to lose health insurance and causing uncertainty in the economy. He said he is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and is pro-life.
In order to be responsive to the residents of the district, Vickery said he will maintain an office in District 8 and will take part in attending local civic and governmental meetings, such as city council, county commissioners court and Chamber of Commerce meetings.
“I’m going to ask you ‘what can I do for you?’ instead of waiting for the community to ask me to do something for them,” Vickery said. “I feel like I’m a hard worker, and I’ll work that hard in Austin. The people in District 8 are wonderful people, and I feel like they need to be represented.”
Incumbent State Rep. Byron Cook has also filed for the March GOP primary.
Bob Belcher of the Corsicana Daily Sun contributed to this story.