Six candidates for state and local offices in the March 6 Republican Party Primary election took their messages before a small but attentive audience Monday night in the Brownwood High School auditorium.
    The Brown County Retired Teachers Association sponsored a candidates forum that that featured House District 60 challengers Dr. Jim Largent and Greg Risse; Brown County Judge Ray West and challenger Dr. Paul Lilly; and Precinct 2 Brown County Commissioner Joel Kelton and challenger Eddie Lord.
    House District 60 Rep. Mike Lang, who is seeking a second term, could not attend because of a prior commitment. Moderator Leland Acker said all the the candidates had been provided the questions and Lang had submitted written answers, which Acker read.
    The forum was similar to a Jan. 26 forum at Howard Payne University, in which the candidates gave opening and closing statements and answered questions on a range of topics pertaining to the offices they’re seeking.
    The House District 60 candidates were the first on the stage.
     Largent is superintendent of the Granbury school district, and Risse, of Coleman, is retired from the Air Force and from a teaching and coaching career. Lang, also of Granbury, had a 30-year law enforcement career and is a member of the House of Representatives’ Freedom Caucus.
    Topics for Largent, Risse and Lang included school finance, vouchers and what they believe are the top issues the Texas Legislature should address — topics they dealt with at the Jan. 26 HPU forum and elsewhere in their campaigns.
    One question for the three men was whether their campaigns receive financial support from Empower Texans,   which has been described as one of the state’s most influential conservative groups.
    Risse and Largent said they do not.
    “If you’ve gotten some of the advertisements that they’ve paid for that are attacking me, you would probably guess that I am not supported by Empower Texans,” Largent said.
    “That’s an interesting group that takes much liberty with the facts. … I would not accept their support.”
    Lang said through his written response that he is proud to have Empower Texans’ support. “I’ll gladly accept donations from any freedom-loving organization that works for less government, less taxes and less regulation,” Lang said.
     For Kelton and Lord, topics included the challenges of the county’s $11 million budget, unfunded mandates, the expenses of indigent health care and indigent defense and maintaining the county’s 200 miles of roads — 100 miles which are paved and another 100 which are unpaved.
    A third candidates forum will be held at the Adams Street Community Center on Feb. 19.