BEAUMONT, Texas — Joseph Trahan and Christian Manuel Hayes are battling to be the Democratic candidate on the ballot in November for the Texas House District 22 seat.
During the March elections, Trahan gained 48% of the votes and Hayes was close behind with 43%. The runoff has given the two contestants more time to make their pitches.
Voters are already heading to polls to decide who will face off against Jacorion Randle and Chad Gary come November. The seat was formerly held by State Rep. Joe Deshotel.
Hayes believes working under Deshotel for a number of years should be proof that he is the perfect candidate for the seat.
“I've been doing it for the last 17 years," Hayes said. "I've literally done every position there, except state representative. [Voters] know [Deshotel's] always done the work. So if he's done the work, I've done the work because I've done the work with him for the last 17 years."
If elected, Hayes said he will focus on doing what is best for Jefferson County. He wants voters to work together and not look at everything from a political side of view, but from a Jefferson County point of view.
“What's best for our people and how do we continue to push that,” Hayes said. "Make an effort to be in each others lives more and listen to each other more, rather than wanting to have a large debate and arguments all the time. There's a lot of things that we can work on together that we should."
Hayes plans to work on area schools and bring more industry into the area if he is elected.
"I want to make sure we are funding education and our special education programs," Hayes said.
Trahan is the former Democratic party chair in Jefferson County. Trahan was born and raised in Jefferson County and believes that makes him a great candidate for the position.
"I'm the only candidate who's been here at home advocating for the issues that matter most," Trahan said.
Trahan said first and foremost, he wants to be visible, accessible and responsive to the constituents in Jefferson County. He is striving to be a representative that is known by the people of the community he represents.
“There has been a lack of effectiveness when it comes to remembering who the everyday person is in Texas, especially in the Texas legislature,” Trahan said. “Many people have expressed frustration for years, where they don’t feel there is an effective presence of their state representatives."
Trahan believes the Jefferson County community has not seen an improvement in the public education system within the last 20 years.
“I think we have to do a better job of supporting traditional public schools, our educators and staff members," Trahan said. "Making sure that we are improving students' outcomes for the next generation of leaders."
Trahan also believes healthcare has become a major issue for Jefferson County community members. He said Texas is among, “the bottom of the barrel,” concerning the quality, affordability and accessibility of health care.
“I think we need to do a better job at our healthcare," Trahan said. "Especially when it comes to expanding Medicaid and making sure the people who are experiencing disabilities, senior citizens, and those who are unemployed or may just be on hard times can have the insurance they need."
Trahan believes providing people with the preventative care they need will ensure that tax payers are not spending billions of dollars treating people in emergency rooms.
"I believe I'm the right person, because in the name itself, state representative implies the individual represents the constituency," Trahan said. "And I'm the only candidate that’s been served an elected office, been elected by the majority of the people in this county."
While they disagree on who is the right person for the job, they both agree that voters need to head to the polls and have their voices heard.
"The biggest thing is just don't stay home, and don't wait to vote, don't wait until election day,” Trahan said.
Early voting began on Monday and will end on Friday, May 20, 2022. Runoff election day is on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.