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Candidates Focus On Health Care In Race For Eric Johnson's Texas House Seat

Texas State Capitol
Four Dallas Democrats are vying for the District 100 seat in the Texas State House.

Four candidates, all Democrats, are competing in a special election for Texas House District 100. The House seat opened up after Eric Johnson was elected Dallas mayor. 

All four said improving health care is something they'll tackle if elected; each had different ideas about the best way to do that.

Daniel Davis Clayton said he entered this race to expand health coverage in the district, which includes parts of south, west and east Dallas. 

“North Texas is the most uninsured region in all of America," Clayton said. "If elected, I’m going to double down and work to get health care expansion in the state of Texas.”

In some ways the issue is personal for Clayton. His mother is a nurse. He also worked for Enroll America, which signed people up for the Affordable Care Act.

Candidate Lorraine Birabil's top campaign issue is personal as well.   

“I have a 6 month-old daughter. Her grandmother died a month and four days before she was born because she was in the Medicaid gap," Birabil said. "She worked as a registered nurse, made too much money to qualify for standard Medicaid, but not enough to pay out of pocket. So I’m doing this to fight for people like Millie and the 1 million Texans who would have coverage overnight if Texas expanded Medicaid.”

Former Dallas City Council member Sandra Crenshaw is also running for the seat. She's concerned about health care as well, but her focus is on mental illness, especially as it pertains to homelessness.

“The homeless do not have a voice,” Crenshaw said. “Very few are registered to vote. So I am speaking for the homeless and also for the mentally ill. This district contains most of the homeless people in Dallas. They need to have a voice.”

District 100 hopeful James Armstrong III also wants to improve health coverage, but he said he plans to get there by improving economic development first.

“This campaign is all about economic opportunity,” Armstrong said. “For far too long the Texas promise of prosperity has only been a promise achieved by the top 20% of wage earners, while other hard-working Texans feel as if their financial status is slipping.”

Armstrong said if economic opportunities improve, then other issues will improve as a result.

Nov. 1 is the final day for early voting in Texas, and Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. The winner of the contest will fill the remainder of Eric Johnson's term which ends Jan. 2021.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.