State Senate candidates to hold debate on campus

State Sen. Wendy Davis and Rep. Mark Shelton will participate in an open State Senate District 10 debate 7 p.m. Thursday inside the Kelly Alumni Center Ballroom.

Davis, the Democratic incumbent, is running for her second term in office. Shelton, the Republican candidate, represents District 97 in the Texas House of Representatives.

Local media members Doug Dunbar, a CBS 11 anchor, and Bud Kennedy, a columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, will serve as two of the three moderators. TCU political science professor Adam Schiffer will serve as the third moderator, said Amorette Hinderaker, the university's convener of debates.

The 90-minute debate will begin with a four minute opening statement from each candidate. Each moderator will have their own questions prepared and will ask them in pairs, one to each candidate, with time for two minutes per answer.

A direct mention of the opposite candidate from either Davis or Shelton will result in an opportunity for that candidate to offer a 30-second rebuttal.

Thursday’s debate will be the third of four scheduled throughout the race. Davis’ and Shelton’s last meeting aired Sunday on WFAA-Channel 8’s "Inside Texas Politics." Sunday’s debate focused strongly on state education issues.

Davis voted against Gov. Rick Perry’s most recent state budget, which balanced funds but cut money for schools. Davis said the budget cut $260 million and 1500 educator jobs in Tarrant County.

“It wasn’t a balanced budget and it wasn’t an honest product in terms of what it conveyed to the community about being balanced,” Davis said during the debate. “It certainly wasn’t listening to people in Tarrant County who were fighting along with schools all across Texas and families all across Texas who were saying we don’t want you to cut $5.5 billion from our public schools.”

The two candidates also took slightly different stances on the idea of creationism being taught in schools.

Both agreed the products of science should be taught, but Davis took a more hard-line approach to the issue than Shelton.

“I think we have to teach the children what science has proven,” Shelton said. “I have a biology degree, and I’m pretty up on that stuff, but I also think we have to be very respectful of people’s religious beliefs.”

Davis said public schools are no place for teachings influenced by religion.

“I’m very respectful of people’s religious beliefs, but I certainly wouldn’t advocate even that my own would make their way into a textbook in a state classroom,” Davis said. “I say we stick with the science, as certainly was the case when I was in school and Mark was in school and allow parents at home to be the ones who guide their children in their religious beliefs.”

The debate went beyond the realm of education, as the candidates used the debate as an opportunity to share their platforms.

“I think this election is about jobs and the economy,” Shelton said during Sunday’s airing of the debate.

Shelton said he felt the need to keep taxes low was key considering the economic condition of the state.

“I voted for a balanced budget without raising taxes,” Shelton said. “In these economic times with high unemployment and businesses in distress, it’s important we keep our regulation and our taxes low.”

Davis said she has served as an “honest and ethical voice” for her constituents, something she doesn’t see Shelton doing in the House of Representatives.

“I think this election is about whether the person who serves Senate District 10 is a voice for the people of their district,” Davis said. “Mark has been voting with an extremist vote in the Texas legislature, listening to the lobby, not the people back home. I think there’s a very clear choice here.”