Early voting for the Texas primaries begins on February 16. For weeks, we’ve been reporting on the importance of these elections, and how your vote in them has a greater impact than in the general election!
Often, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) receives the question of which candidates we support. Unlike a Political Action Committee (PAC), TRTA does not endorse individual candidates. We encourage our members to investigate and vote for the candidates whom they believe will best represent their interests.
There are three general criteria we use to judge the quality of a candidate:
- Is this a friendly incumbent?
- Does the challenger support defined benefit plans?
- Do anti-public education groups support the incumbent?
A friendly incumbent is the easiest of these three criteria to determine. Has your Senator or Representative been supportive of TRTA-friendly bills? Have they advocated for a cost-of-living increase? Or have they opposed legislation that would extend benefits to public education retirees? If you are able to answer these questions, it will be easy to determine whether you should be voting for your incumbent candidate.
It is quite common for a newly elected state representative or senator to be unaware of the defined benefit versus defined contribution discussion. Certainly, TRTA takes measures to inform all officials about the strengths of our defined benefit plans, but having a candidate who is informed when they come into office can be a major boon to our lobbying efforts. Be sure to know whether the challengers in your area are knowledgeable and supportive of defined benefit plans.
Anti-public education groups come in many different forms. For the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on groups seeking to uproot our defined benefit plans. Groups such as the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Texas Public Policy Foundation have consistently lobbied against defined benefit plans such as TRS. If the candidate you are considering is backed by one of these organizations, you should question whether the candidate really has your best interests in mind.
One of the best places to learn more about your candidates is to visit your local unit. Often, TRTA local units will schedule meetings that include Q&A’s, forums and meet-and-greets with potential candidates. These meetings are a great opportunity for you to meet the candidates who might represent you in the Texas Legislature.
If you are unable to make it to a local unit meeting or if you would like to continue your work online, we recommend the following resources:
Teach the Vote
Texas Educators Vote
Texas Teachers Vote
Texas Parent PAC
Texas League of Women Voters
If there are additional resources that you have found helpful and you think TRTA should share them with its members, please contact us!
Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.
Protecting your retirement benefits is one of TRTA’s top priorities, and your participation makes all the difference! Be sure to stay tuned to our other digital mediums to stay informed on all the latest news and updates. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.