Texas A&M University-Kingsville's Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy sponsored a debate Monday between District 43 State Representative J.M. Lozano and his opponent in this year's election, Democratic candidate Kim Gonzalez.

Students from Dr. Brooke Mascagni's Texas Politics class moderated the debate and formulated their questions from four topics - education, the economy, health care and party platforms.

On education, both candidates said the cuts made to the state's education budget need to be restored.

"When that budget cut was made, I voted against those cuts," Lozano said.

However, Gonzalez noted that Lozano had switched political parties since voting against those cuts.

"When those cuts were made, my opponent was serving his district as a Democrat and has since switched to Republican," Gonzalez said. "I think it's important to point out that our party (Democratic Party) was fighting those cuts."

On the state's economy, both candidates shared the view that the gas and oil industries were a benefit to the district.

"I do support the oil and gas industries in South Texas," Gonzalez said. "We need to make sure these companies are responsible and following the laws of the state."

Lozano added it was also important to focus on renewable energy in the future.

"We must save for the future in order to make that transition," Lozano said.

Both candidates also supported a raise in minimum wage.

The biggest disagreement came during the debate's segment on health care, specifically women's health care.

Lozano said his support of HB 2 was based on making sure every medical clinic in the state had the full modern capabilities of dealing with women's health care issues.

"When it comes to women's health care, we cannot gamble," Lozano said.

"If health care is so important to the representative, he needs to tell us why we lost three health care clinics in this district, none of which provided abortion services," Gonzalez responded.

The candidates did agree that the state should have expanded Medicaid coverage instead of denying it from the federal government.

As for party platforms, both candidates agreed that voting 100 percent based on party platform and not for the needs of the district's constituents would be a bad idea for legislators.

"When you vote, you either vote for the party line, or your conscience for your district, and that's what I've done," Lozano said.

"I do not adhere strictly to the party platform," Gonzalez said. "That's a dangerous path to take. I vote my heart."

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