Dr. Jim Largent, Republican candidate for Texas House District 60, visited the Brownwood Country Club on Thursday evening for a question-and-answer session with local voters.

Several local leaders were in attendance for the session, including Mayor Stephen Haynes, Brown County Republican Party chair Robert Porter and former district representative Jim Keffer.

Largent was unable to attend the candidates forum at Howard Payne University last week due to a prior commitment, and used the Q&A as an opportunity to address some of the topics that came up. He sought to highlight the differences between himself and incumbent Rep. Mike Lang, who served his first term during the 2017 legislative session.

Perhaps their most prominent point of disagreement is on the question of school vouchers, government stipends that can follow students from public schools to private, charter or home schools. Lang has supported some forms of voucher programs in the past, but Largent said that vouchers amount to little more than a massive government money grab.

Largent currently serves as the superintendent of Granbury ISD, and has made education one of the signature issues of his campaign.

“The Texas Constitution says it’s the duty of the legislature to provide a free public education, period,” Largent said. “It doesn’t say anything about supplementing private schools or sending kids somewhere else. I’ve got nothing against private schools or home schools. There are many great private schools and many people who do a great job homeschooling their kids. I just don’t want my tax dollars to pay for it.”

Largent also talked about a recent controversy in Hood County in which its Republican Party committee voted unanimously to withdraw any support for him. He said the censure happened because he has yet to pledge support for the state party’s 266-item platform — but only because he never received a copy.

Largent also said that while he likely agrees with “98 percent” of the platform, he will not support any items that endorse school vouchers.

He criticized the idea that only the 12 House members of the Freedom Caucus — like Lang — are true conservatives. “Guys, you’re not going to out-conservative me,” he said. “I grew up in the backwoods of East Texas, hunting and fishing and attending the First Methodist Church every Sunday.

“You’re not going to out-conservative me. Don’t even try that nonsense.”

Largent is expected to appear at the upcoming candidates forums on Feb. 5, at 6 p.m. in the Brownwood High School auditorium, and on Feb. 19 at the Adams Street Community Center.