District 19 Candidates Join Roundtable Discussion - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/24/03

District 19 Candidates Join Roundtable Discussion

There are two Republican candidates seeking to fill the unexpired term of long-time U.S. Representative Larry Combest.

Combest, who was elected to Congress in 1984, is retiring May 31st to spend more time with his family. The runoff is between Randy Neugebauer of Lubbock and Mike Conaway of Midland.

They finished in the top two spots out of a field of 17 in the May 3rd special election. The first of two public candidate forums is set for the evening of May 27th in Lubbock. The Lubbock Independent School District will host a debate on LISD TV Cable Channel 12 at 7:00 p.m. A second forum will be held in the Midland-Odessa area.

However, a private Roundtable Forum at the Lubbock Club on Saturday. The Lubbock business leaders invited the Congressional candidates to a private setting where they were able to address their concerns about District 19.

"Bad side is not just the trade corridors, it is the entire border of Mexico," said Mike Conaway, who was responding to a question about the Ports to Plains and illegal immigration.

While positive of the economic impact of the Ports to Plains, Conaway is leery about what might come with it.

"The bad side is drug dealers and terrorists," Conaway said.

But Neugebauer, Chairman of the Ports to Plains, does not equate the economic program with facilitating drugs and terrorism.

"It would be like saying the interstate system is promoting those same issues and is perpetually not the truth," Neugebauer said.

And, found on a Texas highway last week, 19 illegal immigrants in the back of a trailer. An issue both candidates hope to work on.

"If you are in this country illegally, you need to leave this country. I don't know where we started sending mixed signals on where we enforce the law and when we don't," said Neugebauer.

Conaway says there is a need to enforce immigration laws but showed more sympathy for people crossing the border.

"There is not a person in this room, if their family was hungry enough, that would not cross the Rio Grande to find a job to feed their family," said Conaway.

One thing these candidates both agree on is that voter turnout is very important to this election. As of Friday, nearly 5,000 people voted early in Lubbock -- that's out of 140,000 registered voters.

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