Chris Miller

Miller

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte

Two Democrats, one a recent Baylor University graduate and the other a vice chair of the Brazos County Democratic Party, are vying to challenge state Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-College Station, for the seat representing Texas House District 12.

Chris Miller, 25, works as an investigator for Daniel Stark Law in Waco and graduated from Baylor in 2015. Miller has centered his message on education reform.

His top priority will be “properly funding the education system, properly allocating that funding and changing the focus from high-stakes testing to critical thinking skills and allowing kids to develop those skills,” Miller said.

He said his chances of winning the general election in the consistently Republican district rely on a large voter turnout.

“I think the numbers are there,” Miller said. “When you look at the state of Texas, it’s not a red state. It’s not yet a blue state, but it’s a nonvoting state. The majority of people just didn’t vote. If you get the votes out, you really send a message and let them know I’m not just trying to lure in Democrats. I’m here to run as a candidate that wants to work with the other side, that wants to work together and sit down and reach across the aisle to collaborate and compromise when you need to.”

The district, which includes parts of Waco and extends southwest toward Bryan, has not seen a contested general election since 2012.

Kacal, who is seeking a third, two-year term, is known as an advocate for ranchers and serves as vice chair of the Rules and Resolutions Committee.

In the Democratic primary, Miller will face Marianne Arnold, 67, of Kurten, a town of about 400 people outside Bryan. Arnold had worked as a bookkeeper, accounting manager and lab researcher before retiring last year. She has bachelor’s degrees in business administration and horticulture and a doctorate in plant biology.

“I decided to run because I think we’re all Texans,” said Arnold, a leader in her local Democratic Party. “The Republican leadership has been dividing us into little groups at odds with each other, and I think the leadership should actually be working for the benefit of everybody.”

“Roads, schools and jobs” are her three main issues. She said the Legislature has not given sufficient support to rural highways, school districts and vocational skills training.

“It’s a big district with a lot of little towns like Kurten,” Arnold said. “A lot of them aren’t doing so well because they’ve been neglected.”

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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