Jodey Arrington: upcoming election ‘critical’ for region

As the time between now and the Sept. 9 special election grows shorter, the candidates have been scrambling to make their mark on the campaign trail.The field vying for the Senate District 28 seat visited Sweetwater on Tuesday. The seat became vacant when former Sen. Robert Duncan took the reins as chancellor at Texas Tech University.Republican Jodey Arrington is considered to be one of the frontrunners in the race, and one of his opponents is fellow Republican Charles Perry, a 1980 Sweetwater High School graduate. Former Sweetwater mayor Greg Wortham is running on the Democratic ticket.Arrington, a native of Plainview, has served alongside former President George W. Bush both during his tenure as Texas governor, and later as commander in chief. During an interview with Arrington, he said there are two main issues driving his campaign: border security and water viability."There is no question the system is broken," Arrington said of the immigration process. "You have a demand for a better life in Central and South America. They're risking their lives to come all the way here to have a slice of the American dream."The problem, according to Arrington, is that state and federal budgets are stretched thin and the taxpayer is already facing a heavy burden."Do we believe Congress will fix that?" Arrington asked. "It's a constitutional responsibility of our federal government to secure the borders. Obviously, they aren't doing a very good job of it, so it falls on Texas."Solutions to the border problem offered by Arrington range from a "boots on the ground" deterrence approach to "turning off the magnets" — eliminating taxpayer funded entitlements available to illegal immigrants.Conserving and protecting water in West Texas is paramount to ensuring its success as droughts have decimated local water supplies throughout Arrington's would-be district, which comprises 51 counties."If we don't fight for and secure our water needs, West Texas will dry up and blow away," he said.Allowing individual counties and municipalities to make decisions about water conservation and usage is important, Arrington said. Otherwise, he warned, politicians representing urban districts could try to reroute West Texas water to metropolitan areas.When asked why Nolan County residents should vote for him over Perry or Wortham, Arrington said it all goes back to his roots."I grew up in Plainview, Texas," Arrington said. "It's a farming and faith based community, not much different than Sweetwater. The people and the culture are very similar."Arrington also prides himself on bipartisanship."Everything is politicized. Americans are sick of it," Arrington said. "Our elected officials don't work well together and solve any problems. We still have hope for our great state, that we can come together and solve our problems, irrespective of our backgrounds and ideology.""Look at my record," Arrington continued. "When I was chief of staff at the FDIC, we downsized the FDIC by tens of millions of dollars. I have a record of conservative leadership. I don't care if someone has a 'D' or an 'R' or an 'I' next to their name, if they will work to protect our property and our water rights and keep Austin out of managing our water and they will help support our schools and the things that matter in West Texas, then I call them friends and allies."To me, what it boils down to, is I think West Texans want leadership over politics. I think most Americans want that. I have proven and have a record of working with others to get things done, whether that was bringing thousands of students and billions of dollars to West Texas (during his post as vice chancellor at Tech), or downsizing the FDIC, or helping President Bush assemble his leadership teams for agriculture and energy."Arrington also views education as one of the best ways to guarantee a state's future success."My mother was a public school teacher and I am a product of public schools." he said. "You have to provide adequate funding to public schools and higher education. You have to pay a little now, or a lot later. You'll pay a lot later in unemployment. You'll pay a lot in prisons."